Brad in­spires kids at Blair prize night

Guest de­scribed as great role model

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - GOLF - Gor­don Ban­ner­man

Three years af­ter his reign as ju­nior cap­tain at Blair­gowrie Golf Club, lo­cal hero Bradley Neil was guest of honour at the an­nual prize-giv­ing.

The 21-year-old for­mer Ju­nior Ry­der Cup star and Ama­teur cham­pion re­turned to his roots as a card car­ry­ing mem­ber of the Euro­pean Tour.

He is recharg­ing the bat­ter­ies af­ter a hec­tic fi­nale to 2017, hav­ing se­cured his Tour pass­port with a top 15 fin­ish on the sec­ond tier Chal­lenge Tour and im­me­di­ately sam­pled back to back tour­na­ments in Hong Kong, Mau­ri­tius and South Africa.

The for­mer Blair­gowrie High pupil has been rub­bing shoul­ders with 2013 US Open winner and 2017 Race to Dubai run­ner-up Justin Rose, who strug­gled to make his mark af­ter step­ping up into the pro­fes­sional ranks, miss­ing 21 suc­ces­sive cuts.

“The main aim was to get some money on the board early and thank­fully I did that by mak­ing the cut in Hong Kong,” said Neil.

“To make the week­end I fin­ished birdie, birdie down 17 and 18 so that was special, hol­ing two pretty long putts.

“On 18 I had my man­ager watch­ing along with Justin and when I holed that putt those guys made the big­gest roar. Hav­ing that sup­port was in­cred­i­ble.

“Ever since we first made con­tact af­ter the Ama­teur win and played to­gether at The Open Justin has al­ways taken an in­ter­est in how I’m pro­gress­ing.

“He had guys like Faldo and other Tour leg­ends that took him un­der their wings when he was younger.

“Maybe he feels he is at that stage in his own ca­reer where he can help the younger guys com­ing up and nur­ture them so they don’t have to suf­fer what he went through at the start of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

“There have been guys my age who have come on Tour and ripped it apart straight away, like Jon Rahm this year, but many more have strug­gled.

“So it’s great hav­ing some­one like Justin look­ing out for you. He isn’t just a great golfer but a real gen­tle­men as well, a role model for any young golfer. He is the com­plete pro­fes­sional.”

Neil plans to en­joy a Christ­mas break with the fam­ily and take time to re­flect on the past 12 months.

But he was quick to take-up the in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the ju­nior prize­giv­ing at Blair­gowrie, where he won the ju­nior cham­pi­onship at the age of 13 and fol­lowed it up with the men’s ti­tle 12 months later.

Neil said: “It’s been a crazy few years for me. I was de­lighted to be asked to present the tro­phies to the club’s ju­niors and it’s hard to be­lieve it’s just three years since I was ju­nior cap­tain.

“If I can do any­thing to sup­port the young golfers I will do my best.

“It has been hec­tic re­cently but now I have a chance to sit down with my coach Kevin Hale and look back at the year. We will look through the stats and con­firm where my strengths and weak­nesses were.

“It was mis­sion ac­com­plished and I can re­flect on a year which has been among the best of my ca­reer so far.

“Those first three events were a chance to get out there and feel com­fort­able in a new en­vi­ron­ment.

“I felt at home and ab­so­lutely loved it. I was get­ting used to the idea that this is where I have to earn my money now.

“Ever yone is telling me the hard work starts here. But it’s not as if I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate that my­self. I have come out of a tough league but this is the big league now.”

Neil Wilkie, Blair­gowr ie’s ju­nior con­vener, said: “We have made a ma­jor com­mit­ment to youth de­vel­op­ment and it was fan­tas­tic that Bradley made time in his sched­ule to present the prizes. It was a thrill for the young­sters and amaz­ing to think that just a few years ago he was ju­nior cap­tain here.

“Bradley is a great role model and who knows, one or two may be in­spired to fol­low in his foot­steps.”

• Pic­tures by: An­gus Forbes Pho­tog­ra­phy.

Ris­ing star Bradley Neil presents Blair­gowrie’s Ju­nior Club Cham­pion Cor­mac Sharpe with his award

Im­pres­sive Katy Alexan­der re­ceives the Iso­bel Mur­ray Quaich for Ju­nior Girl Golfer of the Year from Bradley Neil

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