Nick Rodger: In this strangest of sporting years, Scotland’s golfers served up some fine fare



Daily readers may not be the least surprised to know that in recent months I have been trying to cook a lot more creatively.

This time of gastronomic enlightenment has been quite an eye-opener for a man who used to think Haricot Verts was a French spy, though I thought I’d reached the peak of my culinary invention by sprinkling some hand-torn basil over a pot noodle.

“Corden Bleu?” my wife asked, staring at the stove with a curious, worried look as different items boiled and bubbled like the cauldron of the witch in Macbeth. I stammered with a twinkling snort, “No, it’s just my apron is a little tight,”

So much for the success formula, eh? In this strangest of sporting years, at least the Scottish golfers managed to serve up some fine dishes. There is still a crushingly terrible link to the events of today, which is as limp as the batter on my boeuf en croute.

The victory of Marc Warren on the European Tour in Austria in July was followed by the terrific victory of Martin Laird a few weeks ago on the PGA Tour. And now here we are, celebrating the first Sunday victory of Robert MacIntyre in Cyprus, which was so rewarding that he should have been given a Michelin star.

“It’s only a matter of time before he wins.only “It’s a matter of time before he wins.

Winning in this quest, of course, isn’t easy. For example, England’s Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson finished second nine times on the European Tour before breaking through in his 228th tournament, winning the 2014 Dunhill Links Championship.

Nothing in this endlessly interesting, fickle game of fine margins, fine lines, what-ifs, and what-ifs can be taken for granted. MacIntyre is the European Tour champion at 24 years of age and just over three years after beginning his professional career with a 78 at a MENA Tour event in the Middle East.

It has been an exciting increase and one to watch that has been and continues to be riveting. In the upper echelons of the game, MacIntyre has managed to develop himself in a way that a number of young, talented and avidly promoted Scottish golfers before him have not.

The emergence of the left-hander from Oban runs counter to the Caledonian pattern of recent years in many respects. Here’s a golfer who has achieved almost everything on the amateur scene and is now soaring and thriving on the pro scene – from winning his second pro event on the aforementioned MENA Tour to progressing on the Challenge Tour in 2018 in his first full year to winning on the European Tour.

It was the kind of immediate effect sometimes created by young players from other nations… Not from Scotland, however, right?

There have been countless Scots with equally dazzling amateur resumes over the past few years, including MacIntyre, who we figured would be fixtures or at least solid tour players. None of them came close to scaling those heights, because if Stan Laurel were asked to recount the U.S. electoral votes in Georgia, the tricky conundrum of transitioning from amateur to pro continues to generate the kind of headache you might get.

In the revered role of this nation as the cradle of the game, we definitely have no right to succeed. The accomplishments of individuals like Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, Paul Lawrie, and Catriona Matthew, all of whom have achieved for very different reasons, have undoubtedly spoiled us. In this very individual search, there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all model.

Here or paths and academies there, you can talk and debate about growth programs. But in this fundamentally imperfect game of random luck, there is no support structure or network that can inspire a natural talent with the motivation and discipline required to have a chance at success. Only from inside will that come.

MacIntyre has the particular “something” in buckets, while a wildly business-like approach that can be as aggressive as Alan Sugar on a cost-cutting measure masks his easygoing, grounded style.

Halfway through a scholarship in 2015, he dropped out of U.S. college because he felt it was not right for his future aspirations to break up early with his caddy.


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