On ’emergency’ caddie hunt, he called Dad. Now they’re winning

Robert MacIntyre and father Dougie MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre and his father, Dougie, during the third round of the RBC Canadian Open Saturday.

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It hasn’t been an easy run for Robert MacIntyre, here in his first year as a full-time PGA Tour player. He nearly won his home open in Scotland last summer, triumphed in the Ryder Cup in the fall, then moved to Orlando for a new golfing life in America … and hasn’t loved it

He’s felt loneliness like never before. He’s felt homesick like never before. And he’s been trying to find the right caddie all throughout.

MacIntyre changed caddies last fall, shortly after the Ryder Cup, and then stuck with his looper — Mike Burrow — through the beginning of 2024. Burrow has been around the block a bit on the PGA Tour, caddieing for Danny Willett, Haotong Li and numerous others. But between the Masters and the PGA Championship, MacIntyre looked to move on, offering his bag to Scott Carmichael. 

For about five weeks Carmichael carried for MacIntyre, but had a wedding commitment during the PGA Championship, so Burrow jumped back in. Sure enough, MacIntyre contended for a bit of that week, too. But now he’s parted ways with everyone and needed a full reset ahead of this week’s Canadian Open. 

Caddies have plenty of ways of helping their player, but MacIntyre doesn’t need much, he says. It’s more about just having chats on the course and keeping him comfortable, so he picked up the phone and called one of the most comfortable loopers he’s ever had and begged them back into action: his dad, Dougie. 

“I’m trying to work it all out,” MacIntyre said Thursday. “Yeah, it was an emergency phone call on Saturday, and he stepped up to the plate. He’s a good golfer himself, but this kind of level, he’s a bit out of his depth. I thought he did a great job and kept it so simple. The numbers are what they are. Go and add a good shot to that number, and the results should be half decent.”

That’s the funny thing about golf sometimes. Their results have been way better than half decent. The MacIntyres just played 36 holes without a bogey, and earned the 36-hole lead in the process.

“We’re just kind of learning on the run — well, he is — he’s learning on the run and I’m kind of trying to stay as calm as I can,” Bob Mac said. “When I do miss a shot, I’m not trying to get too annoyed. Yeah, we’re just trying to have as much fun as we can.”

It’s been mostly smooth thus far for the two, with Bob securing a lighter, carry bag for his father, then hitting 72% of greens and scrambling for par every single time he’s missed. It certainly helps he finished in the top 10 of each round in putting. All together, it’s the first 36-hole lead of the 27-year-old Scotsman’s Tour career. 

“It’s cool,” Bob said after the second round. “Look, it’s something that he can always say he’s led a PGA Tour event at some point. What happens over the next two rounds, who knows. I’m going to go out there and do the same stuff, hit as many fairways as I can, hit as many good shots as I can, just keep doing the same stuff. As I keep saying, it’s not rocket science, it’s a golf course. It’s you versus it. I think I’ve done a good job so far.”

MacIntyre of course followed that up by making his first bogey of the week on the 1st hole in the third round, all while the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim and others chase after them, with plenty of golf remaining. He’d make two more bogeys on that front nine, too, dropping to as many as four shots off the lead. But something switched halfway through his third round, and he has his caddie to thank for it.

“He was having a wee go at me when I was walking from the 10th tee down to the fairway,” MacIntyre said. “Look, he was a sporting guy, he knows how to win, knows how to lose, he’s been through it all. He could see my head going a little bit and he’s like, ‘What have you been working on for the last eight weeks, 10 weeks’ — whatever I’ve been doing when I realized what was the problem. I kind of flipped into that mode and tried to find the positive in everything.”

Bob Mac quickly made birdie on the 10th and then added a string of them on the 14th, 15th, 16th before eagling the 17th — pushing himself four clear of the field. In what felt like an instant, Dad was suddenly not only going to be able to say he held a Tour lead — he’s now going to sleep on a 4-shot, 54-hole lead and caddie from the final pairing on Sunday.

For a pro who has felt a longing for family and friends during his first full year in the States — even flying in his mom to cook for him during the PGA Championship last month — that call home seems to have been exactly the move he needed.

“Look, I’m out here just now playing,” MacIntyre said Friday night. “I’ve only been home really three weeks since January the 3rd, so I don’t get to see my dad much. Obviously, I phoned him, emergency phone call to come here last week. He jumped at the chance. It’s good to just spend an extra week with loved ones.”

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Sean Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just published his first book, which follows his travels in Scotland during the most pivotal summer in the game’s history.

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