TOUR CARD DREAM FOR BRADLEY
Blair golfer to mix it with the sport’s big boys
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