The Masters: Robert MacIntyre shows his mettle on Augusta debut

Robert Mac Intyre

A two-over-par 74 has Robert MacIntyre nicely positioned after the opening round of his Masters debut.

The 24-year-old Oban man showed no shortage of character to bounce back from four successive bogeys from the eighth to play his final seven holes in two-under on a brutally difficult first day at Augusta National.

That was good enough for a tie for 31st, nine shots off the early pace set by runaway leader Justin Rose.

"I'm a bit disappointed with my score but, the way it was going at the turn, I was struggling," he told Sky Sports after his round. "I wasn't playing that bad. I was just the wrong side of some holes and the greens started getting firm and fast but we hung in there and two-over-par's not a bad score."

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The 2019 European Tour 'Rookie of the Year' had said that he expected the butterflies to kick in when he stood on the first tee today but showed no signs of nerves, backing up a solid par at the first with a birdie at the second.

He handed that shot back with a three-putt bogey on the fifth but bounced back immediately, holing a superb 34-foot birdie putt at six. 

A bogey at eight wasn't the worst result after he was forced to take a penalty drop when he fired his second shot into a shrub. However, the wheels threatened to come off the young Scot's week after sloppy bogeys from the fairway at nine, ten and eleven. 

After safely negotiating the notorious par-3 12th, he clawed shots back at the 13th and 15th, only to cough up a disappointing bogey when he missed the green to the right of the par-3 16th. 

Then came the highlight of his round. 

Short of the green in two after being out of position off the tee on the par-4 17th, MacIntyre flopped a wedge high into the air, which released perfectly and rolled into the cup for birdie. 

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"I was in no man's land," he admitted. "I was in 'Position Z' for that flag and I thought, well, we'll just go for the flop and it came off perfectly. It just went up straight under the cap and it was just perfect the way it went in."

A two-putt par on the last put the seal on an eventful but highly respectable first competitive round at Augusta for the Glencruitten golfer. 

Indeed, only four Scottish golfers have ever scored better on their Masters debut: Stephen Gallacher (71, 2014); Colin Montgomerie (72, 1992); Ken Brown (73, 1988); and Sam Torrance (73, 1985).

MacIntyre's stats make for impressive reading, too. 

He hit ten of 14 fairways and 11 of his 18 greens - better than the field average in both categories. 

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There is, then, much to be encouraged by after that opening salvo and, with an early tee time on Friday, he has an opportunity to lay down a marker and force his way into the weekend - continuing a streak of making the cut in all of major appearances to date - without having to chase a score as the later starters will do.

MacIntyre's first round was matched by US-based Martin Laird, whilst the third Scot in the field, 1988 champion Sandy Lyle, laboured to a nine-over 81.

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