Talented young Blairgowrie star beats No.1 seed Ewan Scott in superb final at Monifieth Golf Links thanks to ‘fantastic’ shot
HELPED by one of the greatest shots of his young life, Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil won the battle of the top seeds to claim the 2013 Scottish Boys Championship, supported by TaylorMade-adidas-Golf, at Monifieth Golf Links.
It was the ‘friendly final’ in Angus, Neil and his great friend, Ewan Scott from St Andrews, both coming through a gruelling week to contest the final so many people in the Scottish game wanted to see. In the end, it was Neil, in brilliant form throughout the six-day event, who sealed a 4&2 win over the No 1 seed in the 36-hole showdown in Angus. Played out in wonderfully sunny and calm conditions, both 17-year-old’s treated the good crowds to a treat, particularly in the afternoon session.
After the players were deadlocked at lunch, Neil took control thanks to some brilliant iron play -including a holed 8-iron approach at the par-4 6th hole - to consign Scott to back-to-back final defeats in the prestigious Under-18 event. The Perthshire player was five-under-par for the 16 holes after lunch, four shots better than Scott.
In doing so, Neil avenged his quarter-final loss to Scott 12 months ago and became the first player from the Blairgowrie club to take the Scottish Boys matchplay title. He also joins a winners' list that includes past and present European Tour pros Andrew Coltart, Steven O'Hara and Scott Henry.
Neil, who together with Scott won gold medals for Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival earlier this year, said: “To pull off a shot like I did at the 6th at any time is fantastic, but to do it in the Scottish Boys final was unthinkable. It was definitely a turning point, and I holed a fantastic putt at the previous hole as well to go one up. I think that putt was just as crucial as holing the second shot. It gave me great confidence and from there I never really looked back.”
Scott, like Neil a graduate of the Scottish Golf Academy and both members of the SGU Boys Performance Squad, was aiming to become the first golfer from St Andrews to win the Boys’ title since Lachlan Carver in 1960. After losing to Peebles’ Craig Howie last year, he fell just short again, but could still draw the positives. After all, he has already reached the South African Amateur semi-finals and won his category at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in China in 2013.
“Bradley hit some awesome iron shots,” said Ewan, coached by Steve North. “You can call it a fluke on the 6th, but it was a quality golf shot. Once it hit the green it was nowhere else, so fair play to him. It’s more world ranking points and a good start to the Boys’ Order of Merit for me, so it’s still a good week.”
Neil, who is coached by Kevin Hale, made a fast start in the morning, clipping a wedge into 10 feet at the opening hole and making birdie. But his errant approach to the next bounced out of bounds and it was quickly back to all square. It was an engrossing, tight match from there, with Neil just ahead until the 18th - when Scott holed from a greenside bunker for a brilliant eagle 3.
“It was a little bonus for me and I guess it might have been nice to have kept going rather than stop,” said Scott.
The afternoon session began cautiously, but came to life in remarkable fashion at the short par-3 23rd. Neil rolled home a birdie 2 from 15 feet, before taking the match by the scruff of the neck at the next. From 129 yards, his majestic, curling 8-iron approach shot found the green and rolled into the hole for a stunning eagle 2.
Scott reduced arrears after driving the green at the short par-4 26th, but a birdie at the 28th restored Neil’s two-hole advantage. Scott passed up chances to reply, before he conceded Neil’s birdie at the 34th.
Ben Kinsley (St Andrews) and Ben Craggs (Glenbervie) picked up bronze medals after their runs to the semi-finals.
Monifieth, which was in fantastic condition all week, staged the Scottish Boys’ for the first time.