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January 22, 2020

Robert MacIntyre

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

CLARE BODEL: Welcome to Dubai. The season, a slightly delayed start for you. How are you feeling now? Are you looking forward to this week?

ROBERT MacINTYRE: I'm feeling good. I've had a bit took of rest I think, to say the least. I was hoping it was going to be last week to start, but things happen for a reason and it's good to get going this week.

CLARE BODEL: You didn't play this tournament last year during that fantastic rookie season, but what have you made of it so far? How is the course looking?

ROBERT MacINTYRE: It's an absolute brutal test. You've got to keep the ball in the fairway. If you don't, you'll probably be home early.

It's a pretty fair test. If you drive it well, if you play well, you score well. I see that like any golf course, but this week there's a premium on driving the golf ball, and that's hopefully where my game's at.

Q. How is it this morning, and how is the wrist, the hand, and the 18 holes today?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: Yeah, it was good. I just needed more time. I felt last week my speed was down, hitting bad shots I wouldn't normally hit, and this week, I'm hitting some -- I feel my speed's back. Like even the week when I was trying to prepare for Abu Dhabi, I was sluggish. Whereas this week, I feel like the speed's back, and if I've got the speed back, I'm using my driving to my advantage.

Q. I saw that when you hit that drive on 18. Did that convince you everything was good to go this week, 325 yards?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: That was one of the good ones. But no, my big test was hitting shots that were hurting me. I had done that on Tuesday, Monday night, Tuesday morning. Hit the shots that were hurting me on the chipping green, and the real test was going to go in the rough. I had to test it. If it hurt, I wasn't going to play, and I just had to accept it. I just had to go for it. So I went in the deep end, just hit it and if it hurt; but no, it's been grand.

Q. Were you able to hit it full throttle?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: If I can't play my -- if I can't compete, I won't play. There's no point. I'm not here just to make up the numbers. If I played last week, I was there, I was going to finish close to last. It's just as simple as that. I couldn't compete.

Whereas this week, I feel that I can go out there and give it enough go.

Q. Will you be able to practice as much as you would want to, or will you be taking it slightly easy?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: Slightly easier. I just don't want the same problem. But I'm going to go -- after here, I'm going to go out there and get my TrakMan numbers. So back to normal.

Q. Is David still here?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: He's here. He goes home after this week. We'll be doing some good work in the last few days.

Q. It's good to see you again. I know you sound very optimistic, but you had an MRI back in September, and you had an MRI last week. What was the indication from the MRI, and if there's nothing sort of diagnosed as a problem there, does it still worry you, first time you pick up a club, and there's pain and you're on painkillers and have your wrist strapped; does the bigger picture concern you?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: It is in the back of the head. I've been taking painkillers since The Open, before the first round of The Open. So the reason I took six weeks off -- I could have taken longer and come back and had the same problem.

But I think I done the right thing by not playing. I'm not worried about -- if the pain comes back, then we've got a problem. We've got to go and look into it deeper, and still looking into it deeper, whether it's technique or whatnot.

But no, I can't worry about if I go here this week and worry about a sore hand, which could happen, then I'm as well back home in Oban and sit on the couch. I'm just going out there, playing golf full throttles as a normally do and see how we're going.

Q. You talked about this being a brutal test, and it looks as though your day buy in the event is coinciding with the course being toughened up. Can you talk more about that?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: It's just there's a lot of doglegs, not so much with trees, but the fairways kind of -- they kink it where the driver is landing. I hit a few good drives today that ran through the fairway, not into the deep stuff, but through the first cut into the second cut, and even then, you can't hit anything more than 7-, 8-iron. It's as thick of rough as I've played in since probably U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills. That rough out there, if there's not a ball-spotter spotting the ball and you're 300 yards away, you're struggling to find it.

Q. Rory made some comments at the end of last season that he felt some of the courses have been getting a little bit too easy. Your first year last year is maybe too difficult but how do you find the courses in general?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: I found them all right. I drove the ball well last year, so a lot of golf courses weren't -- I was making them easier than they probably were. But I thought they were good tests for my first year out.

Challenge Tour was a wee bit more generous. I turned up in Abu Dhabi at the start of last year, and I was -- I played the first two rounds with Richie and I came off on the Friday and I go, "Richie, is that how hard the golf courses are out here?"

He goes, "Well, you have to drive it well here." That made me realise, I've got to improve the driving, and that's what I've done.

Q. Last time you were in Dubai, you won Rookie of the Year, a title you can only win once. What are your aspirations going into the new year? What sort of goals are you set, maybe trying to qualify the Masters, but in the sort of bigger 2020 picture?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: I've not looked further than April if I'm being honest with you. I've just got one goal, Top-50 in the world by April, and if I do that, then I think my start of the season would have been as good as the end of last.

I'm just going out there, play aggressive, play free and hopefully pain-free.

Q. You still got it strapped up?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: Yeah. Again, I don't know if it's doing me any good. I'm just doing it because --

Q. Psychologically?
ROBERT MacINTYRE: -- in my head, I'm saying, this is strapped up, it's strong just now, just give it a go.

CLARE BODEL: Thank you.

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