BRADLEY Neil’s flying start to the season faltered when the Blairgowrie teenager lost in a play-off for the Fairhaven Trophy after taking a six-shot lead into the final round in Lanacashire.
Winner of the Scottish Boys and opening SGU Junior Tour event of the season in recent weeks, the 17-year-old hadn’t put a foot wrong in opening with rounds of 69, 72 and 70 in the prestigious under-18 event.
Those efforts left him well clear of the field, with Worthing’s Marco Penge leading the chase and the three players sharing third a further three shots back.
“I’d never held that big a lead going into a final round and, in the end, I was simply undone by a bad back nine,” admitted Neil afterwards.
Out in level-par 37, he was still on course for victory – Penge had only managed to cut the deficit by one shot – but the birdies that had flowed earlier in the event suddenly dried up for the Scot.
He dropped shots at the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th to come home in 40 for a closing 77 and an aggregate of 288, matched by Penge, even though he dropped shots at the last two holes in his 71.
That left the pair to fight out a four-hole play-off and, though he birdied the 17th to draw level after Penge had gone ahead at the first, Neil’s hopes of victory were undone by a bogey at the last.
It will be a sore one for the Perthshire player to take but it should be merely a blip in what promises to be a memorable season for Neil.