Bob MacIntyre details special Rory McIlroy bond as Scot reveals what they discuss away from golf

Bob MacIntyre used to watch in awe as Rory McIlroy lifted trophies. Now the Scot gets a kick out of knowing the Northern Irishman will pick up the phone whenever he calls.

The pair are set for battle in this week’s US Open but 27-year-old MacIntyre has revealed the four-time Major champion has gone from inspiration to best buddy. And the Oban star reckons his Rome Ryder Cup team-mate has played a huge part in helping him step on it in the States. MacIntyre won his first PGA Tour title in style at the RBC Canadian Open seven days ago, then returned home to catch his breath before the third Major of the year at Pinehurst. McIlroy was three shots behind in Ontario and hailed the Scot for his big breakthrough Stateside.

MacIntyre admits it’s been a boost having the former world No.1 in his corner – even if he’s now out to get the better of him again after being pipped at the Scottish Open last year. The lefty said: “He’s been someone I’ve looked up to for years.

“When I was still an amateur, I was watching Rory win Majors and loads of other tournaments. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best – if not the very best – player of this generation.

“He’s someone I feel I could pick up the phone to. He’s always open and honest with me. He’s just been an all-round good guy with me. I treat him as a friend rather than as a work colleague. I sat with him and Shane Lowry a few weeks ago and they were asking about how I’m finding life in Orlando. We speak about life most of the time rather than golf.”

MacIntyre has been candid about struggling in his rookie US season. But a tied eighth in last month’s US PGA teed up his maiden win across the pond and he jets back out to the States for this week’s event a new man.

He said: “I definitely feel better for the experience. It’s all been about learning how to do things on the PGA Tour.

“In Europe, 90 per cent of the time I’ll be renting a hotel room. In America, it’s the opposite. Basically 90 per cent of the time I’ll be renting a house. It needs to be a different environment.

“I want to spend it where I’m comfortable. It takes a bit of time to get used to but I’m starting to get there now. I hope I don’t get treated any differently. If I do, I’ll spot the guys who are treating me differently.

“When I’m in a good mindset, normally my golf will reflect that. My results over the past six weeks have probably shown that.”

MacIntyre sounded down in the dumps earlier in the season as he set up shop in Orlando. But a quick trip home – and a few games of shinty – helped him refocus.

Bob MacIntyre
Bob MacIntyre -Credit:Getty Images

He’s never looked back and added: “A couple of months ago, I wasn’t enjoying playing golf in America. It was just so different and I felt like I couldn’t escape away from golf, as much as I tried to. Even going back to Orlando, not touching the clubs for a few days, then going back to another tournament, it felt like there was no escape from the golfing world.

“Me and my girlfriend came home, spent time with family and friends, had a couple of games of shinty and a couple of injuries…No joke, I touched the clubs twice in three weeks. I felt like I was back living a normal life. It was great. I then went back out to the Zurich and wanted to play golf again.

“Even though I was struggling a little bit with an injury, I wanted to hit golf balls again. I was back home with people who just treat me like Bob rather than ‘Robert MacIntyre the golfer’.

“Ultimately I’m just a normal guy who plays golf for a living. For me and my girlfriend Shannon, we’re starting to realise that, although the facilities in Orlando are brilliant, we’ll still get home to Scotland any time we have a decent break. That was a massive turning point this season.”