IF THERE is one thing Bradley Neil will have learned from his outings in some high-profile professional events over the past few months, it’s the hard work that lies ahead to reach the standard he needs to be playing in such tournaments on a regular basis.
The Blairgowrie teenager missed the cut in The Memorial, having done likewise in the Irish Open the previous week and, before that, The Masters. Of the three, his performance at Royal County Down was the most encouraging, having been up among the first-round leaders before falling two shots short of being there for the duration.
Neil still has one final treat to come for winning the Amateur Championship just under a year ago and he’ll be determined to give a good account of himself in next week’s US Open at Chambers Bay before, as seems likely, he makes his professional debut in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore.
In truth, I think it’s for the best that the young Scot has already discovered that the level he’s stepping up to is as tough as it gets in sport because he is the type that will face that challenge head on rather being scared by the prospect of having a fight on his hands.
He has the talent and Rory McIlroy, for one, saw that at close quarters during their time together at The Masters.
What Neil needs to show now is that he has the desire and dogged determination to virtually start all over again because he’ll begin from scratch when that asterisk – the symbol commonly used for amateurs in professional events – is taken away from his name.