[PHOTO: Octavio Passos]

It was quite a moment and quite a shot, one Robert MacIntyre will surely remember forever, no matter what the 26-year-old Scot goes on to achieve in his career. And it was, no matter the pureness of the strike, or how well he coped in a time of great excitement and stress, a lesson in how to take full advantage of a huge slice of good fortune.

The story goes like this.

Standing on the Renaissance Club’s 18th tee, Macintyre was five-under par for the final day of the Genesis Scottish Open, 13-under par for the week and tied for the lead with a guy named Rory McIlroy. Macintyre’s drive was a poor one, badly sliced by the lefty into what looked like heavy rough well left of the fairway. So far, so not so good.

It was here, however, that MacIntyre got his break, one the poor quality of his tee shot hardly deserved. But no matter. Instead of the expected heave-ho back to the short grass, then lad from Oban was presented with a nice lie on a conveniently located pathway through the rough. And then, from 213 yards, he struck a 3-wood to inside four feet from the cup.

“I changed clubs because I thought my rescue club couldn’t get there,” he said. “I end up slicing my 3-wood in there to take some distance off and it came out absolutely perfect. Yes, I hit a poor tee shot, but that has to be one of the best shots I’ve ever hit in my life.”

The ensuing birdie – only the second of the day on a 483-yard par-4 averaging 4.63 – was a mere formality. MacIntyre, who left the green in tears, was round in 64, a magnificent effort in conditions less than ideal. And one playing partner David Lingmerth was moved to describe as “one of the best I’ve ever witnessed”.

Still, enough to ensure victory? As things turned out, it wasn’t. But only eventually. And only because of McIlroy brilliance elsewhere. So, although MacIntyre was clearly disappointed at the outcome, pushing the man many feel is the best player in the world into making two late birdies to secure victory remains something to be proud of.

“I’m delighted with the way I played,” was MacIntyre’s immediate verdict. “But this is a sore one to take right now. It’s a dream for any Scotsman to win the Scottish Open. I used to watch this event when it was played at Loch Lomond. But it just wasn’t to be. I have to take my hat off to Rory. What a finish. He’s probably the best in the world, so when he needs to produce he knows that to do. And he did it today.”

While fulsome in his praise of McIlroy, MacIntyre also has much to be proud of. This performance comes at the end of bleak few months, ever since he picked up the Italian Open title last September. Having made his way into the world’s top-50 after finishing T-12 in the 2022 Masters, the 26-year-old shinty enthusiast has slithered down the rankings. This week, he arrived as the 104th best player on the planet. But still not lacking self-confidence.

“I haven’t proved much to myself this week,” he continued. “I know what I can and can’t do. I think I can play against anyone when my game is on. And this shows I’m there or thereabouts.”

Going forward, this result will make MacIntyre a sound each-way bet for this week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. He is clearly something of an expert when it comes to links golf, having finished T-6 in the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush. Then there is the Ryder Cup. Before this week, no one was pitching him to be the first Scot to play in the biennial contest since Stephen Gallacher in 2014 at Gleneagles. But things change quickly in golf. All it takes is a wee bit of luck and lot of talent.