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Loneliness threatened his PGA Tour future. Now, he’s contending at the PGA

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Bob MacIntyre is in contention heading into Sunday at the PGA Championship.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Home cooking can do a lot to cleanse the soul. Especially if you’re a young professional golfer from Scotland finding life in America more difficult than you had hoped.

Robert MacIntyre is one of the more unlikely names in the top-10 heading into Sunday’s final round at the PGA Championship. After a few brilliant seasons on the DP World Tour, there have been very few bright spots during MacIntyre’s first year on the PGA Tour, a season that has seen far more missed cuts (six) than top-25s (two). Some of that has been on-course form, but much more of it has been an affliction of a less competitive variety: loneliness. MacIntyre’s Tour status pushed him to move from his native Scotland to Orlando at the beginning of 2024, and the months since have seen him come face to face with the harsh realities of how lonely tour life can be for European players. He admitted as much during a surprisingly candid and emotional press conference on Thursday after an opening round 66.

“When I’m in America, it’s just me, my girlfriend, and we’re trying to live as good a life as we can,” MacIntyre said. “But it’s difficult when we’re both so close to family and friends.”

Finding the balance between personal and professional life is never easy for rookies, no matter which country they call home. Fighting to keep status can be all-consuming, often to the detriment of a player’s own well-being. That’s compounded for European players, who are often surrounded by more members of their “team” than family. MacIntyre was feeling the effects of that, and his golf game was suffering from it, too. He entered Louisville a long way off from the form that helped him earn a spot on the 2023 European Ryder Cup team, where he went undefeated in three matches. 

So what does a struggling golfer do when they’ve fallen so far their competitive future is coming into question?

They head home, about 3,000 miles away, to Oban, Scotland for mom’s cooking, some “stupid stuff” and the rejuvenating power of family.

“When I can be around friends, family, people closest to me, people that actually care about me, they speak to me as Bob the human rather than Bob the golfer,” MacIntyre said Thursday. “I think that’s when I’m at my happiest, when I’m not talking about golf, golf, golf. Life is actually more important than what I’m doing out here.”

Bob the human, not Bob the golfer. The type of line that, when delivered with MacIntyre’s sincerity, hits you right in the chest, and reminds you that what happens on the course is just 5 hours of a player’s life. Oftentimes what happens the other 19 hours of the day is even more important.

And when Bob is happy, he plays good golf. Since his trip home, he’s carded T8 finish at the Zurich Classic and T13 finish at the Myrtle Beach Classic. Life in America is finally clicking. 

To capitalize on the clarity he found amongst the picturesque hills of Scotland, he brought home with him to Louisville, Kentucky. To the delight of his team (and their stomachs), Momma MacIntyre made the trip to Valhalla and brought some Scottish flair along with her. 

“I’ve got my mom out,” Bob said. “She’s cooking and cleaning for my whole team. I’m having too many cakes and desserts this week. But we’re having a good time.”

The cakes, desserts and haggis are working. MacIntyre sits T7 after three rounds in the 60s surrounded by a litany of major championship winners and PGA Tour stars. There’s a truckload of money, points, and future status up for grabs this weekend — oh, and also that 27-pound Wannamaker trophy. A trophy that would change his life … and his life in America.

The pressure that comes with the opportunity has brought many hardened professional golfers to their knees. But MacIntyre has the rejuvenating energy and comfort of home with him. Clarity that he hopes is strong enough to propel his career to new heights.

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