Blair golfer to mix it with the sport’s big boys

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - THE BACK PAGE - Matthew Gal­lagher

Blair­gowrie golf pro­fes­sional Bradley Neil has ful­filled his boy­hood dream of se­cur­ing a place on the Euro­pean Tour.

The 21-year-old showed nerves of steel at the Chal­lenge Tour’s cur­tain-clos­ing NBO Golf Clas­sic Grand Fi­nal in Mus­cat, Oman, to earn his card.

En­ter­ing the event one place out­side the re­quired top 15 on the or­der of merit, Bradley kept his cool to card rounds of 69, 72, 70 and 69.

And that eight-un­der par to­tal al­lowed the for­mer Blair­gowrie High School pupil to clinch the last re­main­ing Euro­pean Tour spot.

“It’s still pretty sur­real,” Bradley said. “It’s quite hard to tell my­self that I am a Euro­pean Tour player.

“I’m not dis­cred­it­ing the Chal­lenge Tour in any way, be­cause that is what has helped me get to this next stage. But there is an aura about the Euro­pean Tour where you gen­uinely feel like you are an elite golfer.

“It’s sink­ing in more when I’m look­ing at my sched­ule for next year and the events that I will be play­ing in.

“When I play that first event as a full Euro­pean Tour mem­ber, I’ll be ready to get go­ing.”

Bradley sunk a nerve-wrack­ing par putt on the 72nd hole be­fore the anx­ious wait for oth­ers to fin­ish be­gan. He said: “This is some­thing we have been think­ing about all year and it is height­ened be­cause it was the last 72 holes of the sea­son.

“It is make or break and you need to throw ev­ery­thing on the line to achieve the ul­ti­mate dream.

“The fact I had been out on the road for four weeks in a row was tak­ing its toll. I just had to draw on the ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve gained. I had to dig deep to over­come the emo­tions and nerves.

“That putt I holed on the last could have been to miss out by one euro. You just never know. In the end it was to get my tour card.

“I had missed a sim­i­lar putt on the 71st hole so it proves to me I was able to do it when it mat­ters.

“I was 15th in the pro­jected stand­ings and we knew there was only one per­son on the course who could change that.

“It was out of my con­trol and I had done ev­ery­thing I could. It was hor­ri­ble to sit back and watch it un­ravel.

“When I fin­ished I saw my dad and two friends.

“When I went back in­side they started cry­ing again, I hope they don’t mind me dis­clos­ing that in­for­ma­tion!

“The things I needed to go right – me play­ing well and oth­ers not do­ing so well – it all hap­pened for me.”

Golf fans across Scot­land were con­tin­u­ally re­fresh­ing the leader­board on what was an af­ter­noon of twists and turns.

Mes­sages of con­grat­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing well-wishes from fel­low pros Justin Rose and Richie Ram­say, have been flood­ing in.

“It’s an in­di­vid­ual sport but I have a fan­tas­tic team around me who have helped me through the strug­gle,” said Bradley, a for­mer Bri­tish Am­a­teur cham­pion.

“I feel very for­tu­nate to have a very loyal team of fam­ily, friends, coaches and man­age­ment com­pany.

“I’ve been with them from the start and they stuck by me through the times when I first turned pro.

“I’m ex­cited to see what I need to do dif­fer­ently and im­prove on to get to the next stage.

“That could be win­ning a tour event or re­tain­ing my card.

“It’s fan­tas­tic that I have two weeks off now. If I had lost out, I would have needed to go back to Q School for six rounds of golf.

“It’s great that I can em­brace what I have achieved, cel­e­brate with fam­ily and friends, and then get back to the hard work.”

Life as a Euro­pean Tour player could be­gin this month at the UBS Hong Kong Open from Novem­ber 23 to 26.

Bradley is cur­rently the eleventh re­serve to take part.

Great ef­fort Bradley Neil tees-off in Oman Pic­ture: Tom Du­lat/ Getty Im­ages

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