Brad inspires kids at Blair prize night
Guest described as great role model
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