Robert MacIntyre can be Europe’s key Ryder Cup rookie
Europe will have a proud record to defend when Luke Donald’s team take on the United States in the 2023 Ryder Cup as it is 30 years since they last lost on home soil.
While an element of revenge may be in the air following the 19-9 thrashing at Whistling Straits two years ago, the European team will be determined not to suffer the same fate as when Bernard Gallacher’s side were beaten 15-13 at The Belfry in 1993.
Donald, who replaced Henrik Stenson as captain, would do worse than to put plenty of trust in the four rookie members of his 12-man squad at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.
United States are slight favourites to win
While there is a huge disparity between the two teams in the world rankings, the odds suggest it will be a much closer battle. The United States are slight favourites to win at 10/11, with Europe at 5/4 and the tie, which last happened in 1989, a 12/1 offering in the Ryder Cup betting.
World numbers two and three Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm may be favourites to be top European points scorers and will be expected to lead the fight against the USA, but the rookies in Donald’s ranks have the potential to play a pivotal role in the outcome, and one, in particular, should be given a chance to impress.
Though much of the attention is likely to be elsewhere among the European team, it would be wrong to write off the prospects of debutant Robert MacIntyre simply because he does not possess the same high profile or PGA Tour experience as the rest of the European team.
What the Scot has shown during his career is that he is not fazed by pressure or the size of the occasion. He finished in a tie for sixth on his Open debut in 2019 and followed that up with a tie for eighth two years later. On his Masters debut in 2021, MacIntyre took a share of the 12th spot and marked his return to Augusta 12 months later by finishing in a tie for 23rd.
He has made the cut on all four Open appearances and leading into the tournament this year, he finished second to McIlroy at the Scottish Open, with a high-class field containing a host of Ryder Cup players behind him.
It is a testament to his consistency this season that he secured an automatic spot on Donald’s team ahead of Adrian Meronk, who has been a two-time winner on the European Tour this season, including in the Italian Open at the Marco Simone Golf Club in May.
But while it is questionable whether MacIntyre would have secured a captain’s pick if he had not qualified automatically, like Meronk, he has shown winning form at Marco Simone after beating the likes of Matt Fitzpatrick and McIlroy to win the 2022 Italian Open.
Tommy Fleetwood showed in 2018 what is possible when a captain places faith in a rookie after he played in all five matches, picking up four points en route to Europe winning by seven points. MacIntyre, given his winning form in Rome and ability to mix it with the best, could do the same in 2023 if Donald puts his trust in him.