Exclusive: MacIntyre Out To Again Impress Donald With A Successful Italian Open Defence

Defending Italian Open champ Bob MacIntyre is determined to impress European captain Luke Donald for a second time in some seven months at this week’s Italian Open again on the host 2023 Ryder Cup course in Rome.

Last September MacIntyre humbled reigning US Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick in capturing ‘the biggest win in my life’ in a play-off over the Englishman on the Marco Simone course to the north-east of the Italian capital.

The Oban lefty did so in a field boasting 13 European Ryder Cup stars including Donald, who had been named European captain six weeks earlier, along with 2018 winning captain Thomas Bjorn and also Versailles victory hero in Francesco Molinari.

A beaming Robert MacIntyre winning the 2022 Italian Open. (Photograph – DPWT/Getty)

MacIntyre, speaking exclusively with the Sunday Mail, said: “Winning last year’s Italian Open was the biggest win in my life.  It was special in a lot of ways.

“I proved myself against the best that week”.

MacIntyre was inside the top-30 on the leaderboard after day one, top-20 on day two and sharing seventh with a round to play, and three adrift of Fitzpatrick who led by one.

The Scot then produced a scintillating last day opening nine holes, to be out in six-under and now three shots clear of Fitzpatrick who stalled to be level with 10 pars though as many holes.

The Oban lefty then hit a brick wall to be one-over through holes 10 to 15 while Fitzpatrick regrouped with a birdie on 11 and then eagled 12 to be back one clear, and with both players taking on birdie on 16.

Fitzpatrick horribly bogeyed 17 for the pair to be tied ahead of each birdieing the last to complete regulation play tied at 14-under, and with MacIntrye sealing a play-off victory with a birdie down 18 for a second time to second a second Tour title.

Looking back on his Italian success, MacIntyre said: “The best thing I did last year in Italy, was I just hung around and I did that for the three days, so that come Sunday I was close to the lead.

“I didn’t do anything special all week but I recall my wedge play was really good, and then on Sunday I managed to get a really hot start.  We were really flying to be out in 29, so that was a massive help.

“So, it’s just about hanging in there and taking your chances when they come and I did that so well last year in Rome”.

A week earlier, MacIntyre had played alongside Donald at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and with Donald full of praise via Twitter for the Scot following his Roman triumph.

Donald posted the following: “Massive congratulations.  Bob showed a lot o[f guts and resolve in the playoff to get it done”.

As well, MacIntyre arrived in Rome lying 110th in the world, and languishing for three to four months in the high 90’s and low 110s, but headed the next week to France at the new World No. 68.

It’s the same scenario this week in South Korea, arriving in Seoul as World No. 90 while victory in Incheon would bizarrely see MacIntyre move back to No. 68 in the world.

And in this week’s 98th anniversary of the first Italian Open, Donald is again in the field along with his current trio of vice-captains in Bjorn, Nicolas Colsaerts and Edoardo Molinari.

MacIntyre was asked what he would say if were to play alongside or meet-up with Donald this coming week.

He said: “I know Luke, having played a few times alongside him but then everyone knows my ambitions this season.

“It was very special winning such a prestigious event, and with the history the Italian Open enjoys, and it would be great to be going back to the course in late September.

“Though there is so much more to it than just expecting to be in the team.  I still have much work to do, so I really can’t think too much ahead”.

+ Special thank you Louis at Naver.com

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