Robert MacIntyre admits he’s only made one goal for this season: getting into the world’s top 50 by the end of March.
Doing so would earn the Glencruitten man an invitation to play in his the Masters for the first time. A tasty carrot at the end of what is an ever-shortening stick.
However, he insists he’s not letting the prospect of pegging it up at Augusta occupy his thoughts. Instead, he’s focussed on the process rather than the outcome.
Speaking to bunkered.co.uk from Mexico City on the eve of this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship, the 23-year-old said: “Cracking the top 50 by April is the only goal I’ve set myself for this year but, honestly, the Masters isn’t even on my mind right now. I need to just concentrate on playing good golf, posting some good finishes and what will be, will be.”
MacIntyre has already demonstrated that he’s a player primed for the game’s biggest stages.
He finished in a tie for sixth on his major championship debut in last year’s Open at Royal Portrush and won the ‘Rookie of the Year’ spoils in November to cap an exceptional debut season on the European Tour.
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All of that has catapulted him to 66th on the Official World Golf Ranking as of this week and tantalising close to the promised land of the top 50.
However, as much as he would love to make the trip to Georgia in 50 days’ time, he’s trying to take a ‘bigger picture’ view of where his career is at right now.
“If it happens this year, great. If not, there will be other opportunities. I’m only 23. These days, it seems like everybody wants everything yesterday but as long as I keep doing what I’m doing and work on the right things, I’ve got to believe that my chances will come.”
After this week, MacIntyre - back to full fitness following an injury-delayed start to the season - has committed to the Qatar Open and Kenya Open. He’ll make a decision on where to play beyond that depending on how those events go.
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Winning this week's $10.5milion World Golf Championship at Chapultepec would, of course, take care of everything. Indeed, a victory is just about the only thing missing from his CV up to this point.
Again, though, he’s not letting it bother him.
“I’m honestly not worried about it,” he says. “There are guys out here who’ve played 400 or 500 tournaments and have never won. Winning’s not easy. If it was, everybody would have done it by now. My focus is on just staying fit and healthy and working hard.
“I feel comfortable out here and that I belong, even in big events like this week, which is really important. Plus, I’m playing pain-free again after my wrist issues during the off-season, so I feel as though I’m in a really good place right now. I've just got to keep the foot down.”