Top world ranked Scot Robert MacIntyre admits it was the ‘most difficult decision’ in his life to split with Irish-born caddie, Greg Milne.
MacIntyre and Milne had been together since their days on the secondary Challenge Tour and then burst onto the main circuit a year ago with the Scot becoming ‘2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year’.
However, when a player is not performing, the first to go is usually the caddie with MacIntyre and the Waterford-born Milne agreeing to split following the recent U.S. Open Championship.
MacIntyre approached Lundin Link’s Mickey Thomson who was working up until last week as a baker’s delivery driver in and round the Leven area in Fife, though Thomson is no stranger to life as a looper having called the shots when Brooks Koepka captured the 2013 Scottish Hydro Challenge on the secondary Challenge Tour.
“I just felt like the time was right. Me and Greg had a good, what, two years, two and a half years. We came from the Challenge Tour together,” said MacIntyre ahead of this week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
“So me and Greg, great mates. It was just the time was right to change. Not just for me but for Greg. The two of us were, I don’t know, almost getting — I’d say almost stagnant in what we were doing. We almost spent too much time together. I think that was one of the problems.
“We’re good mates, and Greg has gone on to get another bag, and I had my mind set once me and Greg parted I was always getting Mikey. I had to see if he was willing to come and do the job, so thankfully he’s come out and he’s been good this week already, so here’s hoping.”
And MacIntyre revealed how he eventually got in contact with Thomson.
“Mikey was doing delivery for a bakery, started at 3:00 a.m., finished by midday. Actually the first time I messaged him to see, what are you working as, Mate, what are you doing, and he didn’t get back to me,” said MacIntyre.
“I messaged him maybe at 9:00 at night, and then he replied midday the next day, like, oh, sorry I was in bed, I was up for 3:00, and it’s like, right, well –“.
During last year’s rookie season MacIntyre contested 30 tournaments, made the cut in 25, finished runner-up on three occasions and had four other top-10s, including a T6th at the 148th Open, to earn Euro 2.016m in prize money that placed him 11th on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
This year, hampered early by a continuing nagging wrist injury, he’s played nine events, made the cut in eight but managed just one top-10.
And with MacIntyre now down to No. 90 on the World Rankings he was asked by Irish Golfer if it was a difficult decision to make.
“Yeah, it’s not nice at all to do it. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
“But it’s my job and my business. If I don’t perform, I’ve not got a job, but Greg will always — he’ll be able to pick up a bag. At the end of the day it’s my job that’s on the line, so I just felt like it was something that I needed to do to just try and take the next step.
“I just wasn’t — Greg almost — I need more experience and Greg needs more experience, and me and Greg had a great chat when we parted company, still close mates. He messages me all the time.
“I message him. Last week he did well with Toby, Toby Tree, and it’s one of those things where we’re going to be mates. Down the line I’m sure we’ll be back together, but for now it’s just Mikey is the man for the job I feel.
“But when things aren’t going well, you have to change something to try and get a different — for me it’s like any other sport, like football, shinty, whatever. If something is not going well, you’ve got to change it to try and get different momentum, and that’s pretty much one of the reasons I’ve done it, just to try and get something different, try and see a different angle on it, and I mean, that’s really the main reason.
“Mikey is obviously experienced, been through a lot, and I just felt like I got on great with him, so it was one of them — it was a pretty easy decision for me. I approached Mikey to see if he could do the job, and here we are this week.”
Milne was last week working with England’s Toby Tree in sharing 14th place at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.