LET’S face it, we are all potential fodder for the wriggling tentacles of the ageing process as it slowly coils itself around our ankles before entangling us in its withering embrace. This rather sombre opening paragraph was inspired by yet more evidence of my increasing decrepitness when I tweaked something in my back the other day while in the throes of modest athletic endeavour. Now, there’s a sentence that conjures up some deliciously appalling imagery.

As a result of this twinge, the creaking, wincing process of cobbling together today’s column was a spectacle to behold as I sat hunched, contorted and grimacing at my laptop like an agonised Quasimodo poring over a particularly concerning bank statement.

Amid the general huffing, puffing, squirming and cursing, I took some much-needed encouragement from the words of Robert MacIntyre in the aftermath of his thrilling triumph in the Italian Open on Sunday.

“I've been told many, many times, it's ok to be uncomfortable,” said the young Scot. “You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Just embrace it.”

MacIntyre, of course, was referring to the nail-nibbling cut-and-thrust of being at the sharp end of a golf event coming down the stretch, not some ailing scribbler hirpling gingerly around like Grandpa Broon with sair bunions.

The Oban left-hander certainly embraced the challenge didn’t he? Standing firm and beating the reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off at the Marco Simone Club was a mighty feather in his cap. We’ve always said that MacIntyre revels in the big occasions. His sturdy body of work in the majors, for instance, underlines that. Sunday’s success, in a field that also included Rory McIlroy, burnished his resume.

Having played second fiddle to the rapidly rising Ewen Ferguson in recent months - the Bearsden golfer has reeled off two rapid fire wins on the DP World Tour in his breakthrough rookie season - MacIntyre barged his way back into the limelight with his second tour title.

At all levels of this flummoxing, unfathomable game, and particularly in the barren lands of relentless futility where this correspondent and countless others eke out a grim existence, golfers can become accustomed to enduring torture while presenting a face of stoicism to the world. In the dark caverns of the ego, though, the pain will persist. That’s an elaborate way of saying golf can drive you round the bloomin’ twist.

This fickle auld game was certainly teasing and tormenting MacIntyre. But what a difference a week makes. After the final round of the BMW PGA Championship the previous Sunday, he emerged for a summing up of affairs with the waiting press and had the kind of seething glower that could’ve melted the shaft of a 5-iron.

“I’m absolutely livid right now,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “Nothing is happening for me at the moment and it’s driving me mental.”

Seven days later, MacIntyre was savouring a magical conquest in Rome. It’s a daft game. On the back of that victory, he has vaulted some 42 places in the world rankings to No 68 and is within touching distance of the promised land of the top 50 again. Getting back into that rarefied echelon as soon as possible will be a major motivation for MacIntyre as he targets a return to the Marco Simone Club for next year’s Ryder Cup in the Italian capital.

There will be plenty of twists and turns to come before that, of course, but, in just the second event of the European qualification process, MacIntyre has given himself a terrific platform.

A much-needed changing of the guard will take place next year as Team Europe begins penning a new chapter. The skipper, Luke Donald, will have six wild card picks, the most ever for the Europeans.

The advancing years, and the emergence of LIV Golf and all its associated footers and fall-out, means stalwart figures like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and petulant Sergio Garcia have reached the end of their Ryder Cup careers.

It had to happen at some point and the dreadful thumping Europe received at the hands of a star-studded US team at Whistling Straits last year showed that a clear out was needed.

There’s a robust European core, featuring the likes of McIlroy, Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood, while the emerging talent coming through on the tour need to stand up and be counted. As McIlroy said last week, “instead of filling those three or four spots with older veterans, let's blood some rookies and let's get them in and build towards the future.”

After the toils and troubles that are par for the course in this topsy-turvy pursuit, the future looks bright again for MacIntyre. Let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards for this very special Scottish talent.


Long before MacIntyre burst onto the scene, Troon’s Michael Stewart was being tipped as our next big thing. After a glory-laden amateur career, he turned pro in 2011 with justifiable gusto but, like numerous others, the transition was troublesome. A maiden win on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Leven last week, though, rubber-stamped his promotion to the second-tier Challenge Tour. The road to the top is long and arduous but, at 32, Stewart is slowly heading in the right direction.