GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (TBEN) — Bob MacIntyre may have just made his way to Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
The Scottish lefty defeated US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick on the first hole of a playoff to win the Italian Open at the Marco Simone course outside Rome, where next year’s event will take place against the United States.
“This is what I want. This is my only goal for the season: to make that Ryder Cup team,” said MacIntyre. “I think I’ve made a good start.”
The Ryder Cup qualification points for the European team were handed out in Wentworth last week.
It was only the second win of the 26-year-old MacIntyre’s career, but he came up against a quality field that also included European tour leader Rory McIlroy, who finished fourth after hitting his tee shot on the rideable 16th in the water. had struck.
MacIntyre posted a 7-under 64 for best finisher Sunday, finishing 14 under (270) with Fitzpatrick, who won his first major title in Brookline, Massachusetts, in June.
In the playoff on the 18th hole, MacIntyre sank a few yards birdie putt to catch him after Fitzpatrick ran into trouble riding in the rough.
“This means everything,” MacIntyre said. “Two or three months ago I was down and out. I didn’t know what I was doing. Didn’t know where to go. But I’ve talked to the right people and they’ve worked so hard on it.”
MacIntyre’s only previous win came in Cyprus almost two years ago. He finished fourth at the 2019 Italian Open in nearby Olgiata.
Victor Perez of France finished third, one stroke behind, after missing a birdie putt at 18; and McIlroy finished two strokes back.
Europe captain Luke Donald, who finished in a tie for 34th, was quick to praise MacIntyre.
“Huge congratulations”, Donald tweeted. “Show a lot of guts and determination in the play-off to make it happen.”
“I played with Bob at Wentworth last week,” Donald told The The Bharat Express News. “Looks like a strong player but with a strong mind – he looks very fearless on the golf course, which is what you need in a Ryder Cup. It’s a busy situation.”
The US made a record run over Europe last year in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, and Donald seems interested in adding some new players to his team.
“There’s a lot of young talent out there,” Donald said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to show me what they’ve got and be part of that team in 12 months.”
From September 29 to October 1, 2023, Marco Simone will become the third venue in continental Europe to host the Ryder Cup, after Valderrama in Spain (1997) and Le Golf National in France (2018).
The hilly Marco Simone track was completely redesigned a few years ago with the Ryder Cup in mind and this week proved to be a serious test in all weather conditions – including heat, rain and wind, before Sunday’s perfect conditions.
“It was a really good test,” Donald said. “Obviously a very strong field was not easy and scoring was not easy.
“Some of these guys who will probably be on the Ryder Cup team next year would have seen it all this week. So I think it’s good that they are well prepared.”
Thick rough and tall grass along the narrow fairways was designed to favor the European team.
“Early this week, I didn’t think this would be (my) style of golf,” MacIntyre said. “(But) I was able to control my golf ball with wedges and irons and even the hybrid that went in the bag last week.”
MacIntyre hails from the whiskey town of Oban on the coast of Scotland and also plays a local game called shinty which is similar to field hockey.
“It is a sport that is close to my heart. My family plays it all (for generations),” he said, adding that he feels “lucky” to have chosen golf as his primary sport.
Fitzpatrick almost produced an albatross when his second shot on the par-5 12th from 212 yards hit the pin. While Fitzpatrick knocked off his four-foot eagle, MacIntyre began to struggle a few holes ahead at 14 when he found the rough and bogeyed.
But MacIntyre pulled it back together and birdied at 18 to pressure Fitzpatrick into regulation.
“I hit a terrible shot and stood back against the wall, and again I got a stubborn stance, never give up, if I get hit I hit back,” MacIntyre said. “The birdies that came in were huge and luckily I got into the play-off.”
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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf