Bradley Neil is hoping the unprecedented crowds which turned out for the opening day of the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup can return and act as a 13th team member as the European side attempts to overhaul a 7½-4½ deficit on the final day at The Blairgowrie Golf Club.
The Scot was blown away by the support at his home club as more than 3,000 spectators came out to watch Stuart Wilson’s European team take on Brian Whitcomb’s USA side, who produced some breath-taking moments worthy of the Ryder Cup itself to take a three point lead.
On a day of high drama at the Perthshire venue, the USA took a 4–2 lead into the afternoon and, just as Europe looked to be turning the tide midway through the fourballs, the visitors turned it around with some stunning comebacks.
The moment of the day came from Austin Connelly, who holed out with the putt of a lifetime from more than 50 feet to rubber-stamp a crucial point on the final green alongside Hannah O’Sullivan in the third match of the afternoon.
That came after Iván Cantero Gutierrez of Spain held his nerve at the 18th to pick up a half for Europe alongside the impressive Frenchwoman Mathilda Cappiellez, while Danish duo John Axelsen and Emily Pedersen put blue on the board with a 3&1 victory over Gordon Neale and Amy Lee.
Alongside England’s Annabel Dimmock, home hero Neil led the lines from the back in the afternoon as they stormed to an impressive 6&4 victory over Cameron Young and Sierra Brooks, and the Amateur Champion is hoping the crowds can push them to an unlikely comeback on the final day.
“Obviously we expected some crowds but there was no way I expected this much support,” said Neil, who lost alongside Germany’s Max Schmitt in the morning foursomes. “I really hope the people that came saw how good the golf is, how good it is to watch, and want to come back today.
“It would be massive if we can get the crowds. Coming down 16 yesterday morning I could really feel the crowds backing us up and they’re like a 13th team member. If we get it going early doors and we get some blue on the board, hopefully we can get it going. The morning round Max (Schmitt) played really well but I was holding him down a little bit until the very end, he gave me so many chances and I didn’t take any until 16 and 17. We had a great fight back there and I was probably too pumped up on the tee shot and that’s how we lost the match probably.
“In the afternoon I was so determined with Annabel to get a point on the board for the team and going out last is a tough job because if it comes down to you, you have to be in a good position to pick up your point, and it was great seeing blue coming up on the board earlier on.
“I thought me and Annabel were pretty scary out there, we put them under so much pressure with how many birdies we had.
“From four to 11 we didn’t have any pars, that’s tough to play against, especially when we already had a lead.”
Dimmock, the Scottish Open Strokeplay Champion, agreed that they formed a formidable partnership, adding: “We were both close all the time and it makes so much difference when we’re both close to the hole and not just one.”