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After memorably holding off not just Rory McIlroy down the stretch in the Italian Open, but also reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a thrilling playoff to claim the title, Robert MacIntyre has set his lofty ambitions for the year ahead.
After the qualifying cycle for the 2023 Ryder Cup began two weeks ago at Wentworth, the win gives MacIntyre the best start possible, vaulting him to an early third position in the European points list standings to leave him focused on making the team. “We are well away from the Ryder Cup obviously, and you know what, might as well say it, it's my No.1 priority. I was close last time, and I went to try to get my PGA Tour card, didn't work out, both sides. But this is what I want. This is my only goal for the season, is to make that Ryder Cup team."
However, victory in Italy was the last thing on the Scot’s mind at the start of the week, and he admitted that "I didn't think this was going to be". Having slipped to as low as 113th in the Official World World Golf Ranking and without a top 10 finish since February, the 26-year-old Scot had endured a tough 2022 season compared to his 2021 campaign which included two Major championship top 15s. Nevertheless, he was thrilled with the "control" he managed to find last week, especially with his wedges and irons and even with a hybrid, which he revealed was only added to his bag the week before the event.
The field at Marco Simone was very strong, and MacIntyre fired a thrilling front nine 29 to vault himself into contention early on Sunday. He then kept his composure to birdie the 16th and 18th after back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15, and he admitted that "the birdies coming in were massive".
He eventually signed for a 64 which represented his lowest score of the week. He then faced the anxious wait to see if anyone could catch him, and although Fitzpatrick eventually tied his score, MacIntyre could have gone one better and won outright had his ball gone in after hitting the pin at the par 5 12th hole. Of the near-albatross, MacIntyre admitted that he’d just hit a "terrible shot" at the time of the roars, but his "dogged attitude" allowed him to stay focused and play his own game.
Of his determination, MacIntyre said: "I get punched but I punch back." Such qualities are sought after in good Ryder Cup players. If MacIntyre's form continues in this vein, he may well reach his expectations and showcase his skills on the biggest stage of all next September at the same venue.
Hugo studies French and Spanish at Durham University and will graduate in 2023. He has always had a passion for the game of golf and everything around it, and took up the game aged seven. He currently holds a five handicap and had his first and only hole-in-one aged 18 in Scotland. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy.
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