British No.1 Tyrrell Hatton handed Robert MacIntyre a ringing Ryder Cup endorsement following last week’s gallant Dubai showing.
MacIntyre has joined Hatton in this week’s third edition of the Saudi International on the Royal Greens course overlooking the Red Sea. Hatton was five days shy of his 25th birthday in moving inside the top-50 on the rankings for a first time thanks to his 2016 Alfred Dunhill Links victory at St. Andrews. It also had taken Hatton 98 World Ranking counting events to break into the top-50 whereas it took MacIntyre just 50 events, notably 68 less than it took Colin Montgomerie to find his way inside the magical leading 50 in the world.
Hatton brilliantly kick-started the New Year with victory in Abu Dhabi and while just outside the top-20 last week in Dubai, the Englishman has seen enough of MacIntyre in the Scot’s short time on Tour to know he’s got the goods for a Ryder Cup.
“Bob’s got an absolutely great demeanour for the Ryder Cup,” said Hatton. “He’s a fantastic player. I saw social media, he just moved inside the Top-50 now, that’s — how old is he?
“Twenty-four! So, 24 years old and breaking inside the Top-50 is so impressive, and I’d like to think that everyone out here on The European Tour would expect him to go from strength-to-strength. Another good result for him last week and certainly going to help his confidence. I guess we wish him all the best.”
MacIntyre tees-up in Saudi Arabia not only 44th in the world but also seventh on the Race to Dubai money list and now up to 10th on the Ryder Cup standings.
He said: “It means everything for me to be now inside the top-50 on the rankings as it’s a stepping stone to where we are trying to go and we can’t go to certain places without being in the top-50 in the world. So, it’s a great achievement for me and my team around me. It’s not just been just a one-man band, as it’s been a great team effort. Everyone in my team has given me every opportunity to go out and achieve what I have, so far. I know where I want to go and it’s just a matter of putting in good work and trusting people around me.”
And how high can MacIntyre climb?
“Everyone thinks they can get to wherever they want in this game but I don’t know as all I am trying to take it a day at a time, a week at a time but I know my good golf can stand up. I’m only a 24-year-old and I’ve got a long career ahead of me and I know I’ve got a long career ahead of me if I keep producing good golf over my career.
“Honestly, I couldn’t put a number on it and where golf will take me I don’t know and nobody else knows but it’s been fun so far and here’s hoping it continues like this for say the next 10-years or for how many years. I don’t see why I can’t be a top-10 player but there’s a long way to go before I get there, so I will keep shooting for the stars.”
MacIntyre will play the opening two Saudi rounds in the company of Paul Casey, winner of last week’s Dubai Desert Classic, and Graeme McDowell, the defending Saudi champ.