Amateur champion Bradley Neil has further highlighted his impressive season after being named Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year and the Scottish Golf Union Men’s Order of Merit winner.
Ahead of representing Scotland in this week’s World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, Neil is the first player since Tulliallan’s Callum Macaulay in 2007 to do the ‘double’.
Thanks to finishing as the leading Scot on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) at last Friday’s cut off point – helped by becoming the first Scot in 10 years to win The Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush in June – Neil has secured the Amateur Golfer of the Year accolade.
Neil had no shortage of rivals to fend off for the title with six Scots populating the top 100 on the WAGR during strong seasons in 2014.
The 18-year-old from Blairgowrie is 6th on the WAGR, edging out Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest (18th WAGR), who beat Neil in a play-off to win the St Andrews Links Trophy in June
Cawder’s Jamie Savage, who ended Scotland’s five-year drought in premier GB&I 72-hole stroke play events by winning in Ireland in May, came third in the rankings, with Fairstone Scottish Amateur champion Chris Robb (Meldrum House) fourth. Kilmarnock Barassie’s Jack McDonald, the 2013 Order of Merit champion, and James Ross of Royal Burgess, last year’s Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year, were fifth and sixth respectively.
Perthshire player Neil joins a Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year roll on honour that features the likes of Andrew Coltart, Dean Robertson, Steven O’Hara, Richie Ramsay, James Byrne, Michael Stewart and Macaulay.
Neil also came out on top in the SGU Men’s Order of Merit, helped hugely by his Royal Portrush success which earned him 250 points. Having posted seven top-10 finishes already in 2014, Neil defeated South African Zander Lombard 2&1 in The Amateur final. The former Scottish Boys champion also won the key play-off for Scotland’s European Nations Cup success in March, helped Great Britain & Ireland win the St Andrews Trophy and will represent Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup side over his home course later this month.
Robb finished runner-up in the merit rankings, with Matthew Clark (Kilmacolm), McDonald’s Adam Dunton and Connor Syme of Drumoig third, fourth and fifth respectively. European Tour winner Scott Jamieson is among the former winners of the Merit title.
“It’s a great achievement for me,” said Neil of the double success. “I would have been delighted to win one of them, but winning both tops off my season really well, even though we have more to play for in Japan this week ahead of the Junior Ryder Cup.
“The Amateur win obviously helped me on the merit table and the WAGR. Building up to The Amateur I had lot of good stroke play performances, like in the Lytham Trophy and at the St Andrews Links.
“I was just behind Grant in the rankings and when I won it took me ahead of him, so it was great to stay there.
“We’ve had six Scots in the top 100 (of the WAGR) this year, which is certainly different to last year. We’ve shown as a group that we’ve made a step up and made big improvements at British and European level. We’ve driven each other on this season.”
Neil, Forrest and Robb are now fully focused on this week’s World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, bidding to emulate the historic Eisenhower Trophy success of their countrymen in 2008.
Staged in the city of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture from today (Wednesday) until Saturday (10 – 13 September), the biennial 72-hole strokeplay event is one of the most prestigious in amateur golf.
Six years ago in Australia, Scotland were on top of the world after brilliantly claiming a first-ever world title victory thanks to the endeavours of Wallace Booth, Gavin Dear and Macaulay as George Crawford captained his side to an emphatic nine-stroke victory over a USA field featuring Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel.
“Hopefully we can play well this week and contend at the Eisenhower,” added Neil. “We know we can put in a good performance and all three of us, individually, are good players. It’s a question of performing as a team this week.”