Robert MacIntyre’s teary victory with dad came with added meaning

Robert MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre wipes his eyes after winning the Canadian Open with his father on the bag.

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It would seem like no player on the PGA Tour has thought more about family this year than Robert MacIntyre. Certainly no player has talked about it more than the boy from Oban, Scotland. 

MacIntyre moved from Europe to Orlando this year for a full-time life on the PGA Tour. He was one of 10 graduates from the DP World Tour who received full status in the States, where the purse sizes are regularly four or five times as big. It was a natural move on paper but became a difficult one in reality. Because MacIntyre quickly missed home. He missed his friends on the DPWT, played mostly in Europe. He missed his family, whom he used to see between tournament starts. But when his home base became central Florida, trips home not only became infrequent, they became mostly impossible. 

As he shared multiple times with reporters this spring, MacIntyre felt lonely in his new Tour life — just him and his girlfriend and a handful of European pals he was close with. But those European pros have their own schedules, their own families to tend to, their own breaks. Feeling a tug at his heart, MacIntyre flew home in early April. He didn’t have a Masters invite, so instead he spent three weeks in Oban, barely touching his golf clubs. 

“Done some stupid stuff and just enjoyed myself,” was how he described that trip at last month’s PGA Championship. He had flown his mother during PGA week to cook and clean in their rental house while he contended for the title, extending his familial time as long as he could. He believed that trip home was key to changing his attitude, resetting the pressures he was feeling and his expectations for the season moving forward. It ended with him tied for eighth, his first top 10 in a major championship in years. It was an unexpected success by every measure. Except he did it with a fill-in caddie. 

MacIntyre has been on a bit of a caddie hunt for the last two years. He began 2023 with fellow Scot Mike Thompson on his bag before switching to Greg Milne a year ago. Shortly after the Ryder Cup, he swapped in Mike Burrow, a tenured Tour vet. Burrow carried for him throughout the early months of 2024, but then was changed out for Scott Carmichael. When Carmichael was busy with a wedding during the PGA, Burrow stepped back in for that single week before Carmichael was back in tow at the Charles Schwab Challenge. MacIntyre labeled his caddie hiring process “in transition.”

When MacIntyre missed the cut in Dallas, “transition” felt a lot more like emergency. MacIntyre called home, ringing his father, Dougie, on Saturday night back in Scotland.

Dougie Mac was ready for a week worth of greenskeeping duties at Glencruitten Golf Club, in the southwest corner of Caledonia, where Robert says he was “born and bred.”

“I’m sitting on the couch at home, 8 o’clock Saturday night, and I’m like, ‘Can I leave my job here?’” Dougie said. His son had asked him to fill in as an emergency caddie. “Eight o’clock the next morning and I’m on a flight here. Wow.” 

Wow doesn’t quite do it justice, but Dougie would be forgiven for struggling to find the words. He had shared those details for the first time all week while standing on the 18th green, being interviewd by Amanda Balionis, his son having just won the Canadian Open by one stroke for his first career Tour win. Dad had already rolled up the flag from the 18th pin, the only keepsake a caddie could ever want.

“Unbelievable. I’m a grass-cutter,” Dougie said, pausing in his emotions. “Not a caddie. Not a caddie. Honestly, it’s unbelievable.”

Unbelievable feels like a better word, given how Tour victories are often handed out at the end of long journeys in search of consistency, not after hasty caddie changes. Tour players seem to triumph most after they’ve built and built and built toward a victory. Not immediately after a missed cut and a last-minute call home. But it seems to make perfect sense when considering MacIntyre’s season and sensibilities. He’s an emotional person, admitting to having been on the verge of tears ahead of his first Ryder Cup match last fall. He’s admitted that his game was trending all spring but that his attitude was getting in his way. And as the world knows well now, the Orlando-based version of MacIntyre always seems to be longing for a piece of what awaits him on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In the wake of his breakthrough Sunday night, he had clearly already made plans to address that. 

“Just one last question, you’ve now played yourself into [next week’s] Memorial,” started CBS’ Amanda Balionis, “into the U.S. Open, into Travelers. Is Dad hired on the bag for the next three big weeks?”

“No, Dad’s on the flight home on Monday,” Robert began. “I think me and my girlfriend might go home on Monday as well and just have a helluva party back home, because this is incredible.”

It was a reminder that to the victors on the PGA Tour come many spoils. There’s the $1.692 million winner’s check. There’s full status on the Tour for the next 2.5 years. MacIntyre was immediately elevated into every Signature Event for the remainder of this season, earning a Masters invite for next April and a U.S. Open tee time in just 10 days.

But before all of that, Sunday’s win gave him the freedom to go home again and whenever he’d like to in the future. By the time he was conducting a winner’s press conference, the party back home he had imagined had already been delayed a bit. He’s probably going to play the Memorial. It’s too good an opportunity to pass up. But whether it’s next week or a little further down the road, rest assured, Bob MacIntyre will soon again be headed home to do some stupid stuff and just enjoy himself.

Sean Zak 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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