BRADLEY Neil, the Amateur champion, has defended his decision not to enter the European Tour Qualifying School this year, insisting he’d be “silly” to give up spots in both The Masters and US Open in 2015.
The Blairgowrie teenager was responding to reference being made about him in The Scotsman yesterday in relation to Renato Paratore, a 17-year-old Italian, finishing third in the card shootout in Girona to secure his place on the European Tour next season.
As a reward for winning the amateur game’s blue riband event at Royal Portrush earlier this year, Neil has a trip to Augusta National in April to look forward to for The Masters as well as an invitation to the US Open at Chambers Bay in June.
The 18-year-old said he wanted to enjoy both those experiences before turning his thoughts to a switch to the professional ranks, in which he is confident he can join Paratore on the European Tour.
“I didn’t want to give up my two major spots or any Tour spots I get from being Am champ,” wrote Neil on Twitter. “Another year of support. Lots of opportunities ahead that I can learn from for when I finally go for it.
“It would be silly to give up the amazing opportunity I have next year – it wouldn’t be right to waste that opportunity.”
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Neil, who is currently in the United Arab Emirates on a winter coaching trip with the Scottish Golf Union, said there would have been no point in him entering the Q-School this year just for the experience.
“I’ve got that funding,” he added of the £1,350 entry fee. “But I didn’t want to waste it knowing I wasn’t going to turn pro.
“My plan is to turn next year, a decision made by me, helped by my family, close friends and coach – not the SGU!”
On Italy’s latest teenage sensation, Neil said: “Para made the right choice and so have I. He has more Euro Tour experience – I’ve only played The Open – and is a great player.”
Neil, the world No 4, has been encouraged to make the switch to the professional ranks immediately after his US Open appearance rather than hanging on to try to get in next September’s Walker Cup at Royal Lytham.
“He should turn asap after that [the season’s second major] – that would be my advice to him,” said Jamie McLeary, who was European No 1 as an amateur before he became a pro, using the Challenge Tour to climb on to the main circuit, where he finished 152nd in this year’s Race to Dubai.
“I learned more in my first three years than I did in all my previous years combined,” added the Bonnyrigg-based player.
On the back of Scotland drawing a blank at this year’s Q-School to leave Scott Jamieson, who turns 31 on Friday, as the youngest among eight players flying the saltire on the European Tour next season, Scots have been encouraged to spread their wings in future. “What I don’t understand is why more Scottish golfers don’t try for the Asian Tour and One Asia Tour,” said Kenny Walker, a former world junior champion from Edinburgh who now lives in Thailand.
“They can enter both Tour schools and, if successful, will be teeing up in up to 15 events with prize funds of $300,000 to $1 million – a better deal than the Alps Tour.
“Do Scottish golfers not have a sense of adventure?
“Surely when they turn pro they should be realistic and realise that they probably are not good enough to walk straight on to the European Tour. There are so many places that they can go to play until their games are ready. I just don’t see many of them doing that.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS