Robert MacIntyre might have been star-struck the first time he was paired with Rory McIlroy – but the pair have struck up an affinity over the last three years.
It was the 2019 Scottish Open the first time the pair were put in the same marquee group, alongside Rickie Fowler. MacIntyre, at that point a tour rookie, admitted he was worried about making contact with his ball on the first tee.
“It was unbelievable,” he said.
“I remember teeing it up and thinking ‘just make contact with this thing’. I was so nervous because I had never met these guys never mind played with them. But once I got playing with them I realised they were just two normal guys.
“To this day I walk into a locker room and mine and Rory’s lockers are often near each other because of our surnames. I chat to him most weeks when he and I are playing. It’s just incredible for me to think this is the level of golf I’m playing at.”
Given his proximity to McIlroy over the last three years, he has had plenty of time to pick the four-time major winner’s brains.
But he revealed the best piece of advice he has heard from the former No.1 is one he overheard being given out to another player.
“One of the best ones from Rory was when we were in the locker room at Riviera for the Genesis with Peter Malnati," he added.
“We were talking about schedules and whatnot and he asked how often we had to change an event. Rory said, ‘I don’t play more than 25 so I have to change one now and again’.
“Peter said ‘I wish I was one of the big boys’ and Rory turned to him and said ‘Peter, there’s nothing dropping you being one of the big boys’.
“It just shows that anyone can do it. Where Rory came from people wouldn’t expect him to be who he is. There’s nothing stopping anyone from being a top golfer.”