Bob MacIntyre used to dream about meeting his “idol” Phil Mickelson – but now he’s only interested in beating him.
The pair have teed up in the same event on three occasions this year, most recently in the 85th Masters, but they have still not been in a position to say “hello” to each other.
MacIntyre didn’t feel it was the right time to make that move when they were on the practice putting green at the same time at Augusta National in the buildup to the season’s opening major and, in any case, the young Scot is well past the stage of being starstruck in his fellow lefty’s company.
“No, it’s not my place,” replied MacIntyre to being asked if he’d had any other chances to introduce himself to Mickelson, a five-time major winner, before the end of the event in Georgia. “I’m there to beat him. I’m competing against him. I’m not going to go out of my way to try and make friends or become closer to someone.
“Yes, he was my idol growing up, but I am competing against him now. I’m trying to beat him when he’s trying to take things away from me – world ranking points, money the lot.
“He’s there to beat me and I’m there to beat him. We’ll peg it up on the first tee and go for it.”
MacIntyre, the world No 44, is currently the top-ranked left-hander in the game, having climbed above Mickelson, as well as another double Masters champion Bubba Watson, on the back of some brilliant performances over the past couple of years.
He finished runner-up three times and also made the top 10 on his major debut en route to being crowned as 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year before landing his breakthrough win on the circuit in the Cyprus Showdown last November.
The 24-year-old chalked up a third-place finish in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January before topping a group that included world No 1 Dustin Johnson on the WGC Match Play then tying for 12th on his Masters debut to secure a return trip to Augusta next April.
In producing all those eye-catching performances, MacIntyre has been Mickelson-esque most of the time by adopting an aggressive attitude and never being scared about taking on the odd risky shot.
“I knew I was throwing a lot of birdies in because I knew I was making a lot of bogeys and not really moving,” said MacIntyre of recording the most birdies – 21 – out of anyone in the field for the 85th edition of the Masters.
“I loved the course, it suited me. I was driving it well, striking irons well, putting well. Not many courses you can’t play if you’re doing that. It suited my eye, the way I shaped the ball.
“I kept getting told ‘look, don’t be trying to play into spots away from pins, be aggressive, be on the front foot, attack the golf course’.
“Sometimes we did it too much and we made bogeys. But we have learned. I have the (yardage} books from the week and I’ll learn for next year. There are pins I’ll say I can’t go at or others that I could say I should’ve went for it a bit more.”