American Peter Uihlein has donated £10,000 to the Scottish Golf Union to specifically help with Bradley Neil’s playing expenses after being impressed by the Blairgowrie teenager during their four days together in last month’s Dunhill Links Championship.
Neil, who was drafted in as a late replacement for rock singer Huey Lewis in the pro-am event, hit it off with Uihlein and watched him come close to the European Tour’s first 59 at Kingsbarns then, the following day, hole out for an eagle at the 18th on the Old Course at St Andrews.
The latter earned the former US Amateur champion the lead heading into the final round and, although he was eventually pipped for the title by Englishman David Howell in a play-off, Uihlein has shown how much he enjoyed being in Neil’s company, as well as believing in his potential, through an incredible gesture.
He has sent his prize-money for the pair finishing joint-second in the team event to the SGU asking that is used to help Neil, the Scottish Boys’ champion, progress his career and, as long as the donation is administered by the governing body, his generosity is perfectly acceptable under the R&A’s Rules of Amateur Status.
“Bradley was a pleasure to partner and I was very impressed with his performance,” Uihlein, the Madeira Islands Open champion, told the Associated Press. “He has a great chance of achieving success in the game if he continues to work hard. I will be following his career and hope the donation can play some small part in helping him progress in the right direction.”
Privately, Neil is understood to be delighted – understandably so. Due to the Rules of Amateur Status preventing players in the non-paid ranks from promoting themselves or being linked with either individuals or companies assisting them in such a way as Uihlein, though, he is prohibited from commenting publically on the matter.
Doing so would be deemed as publicising a sponsor and, in this instance, the R&A is likely to be wathing the situation closely due to Uihlein’s links with equipment manufacturer Titleist. His father, Wally, is the CEO of Acushnet, its parent company.
It is unlikely, however, that has anything to do with Uihlein’s generosity. The 24-year-old, sitting tenth in the Race to Dubai heading into the European Tour’s new Final Series, was still in the amateur ranks himself two years ago. He knows the difference such a sum of money could make to someone trying to make their way in the game, as Neil now has the chance to discover.
“The experience will stay with me for a long time, and I hope it’s not the last time we play together,” he said immediately after the Dunhill Links. His desire to make that happen will no doubt be even greater thanks to Uihlein coming up with one of the biggest individual donations in amateur golf.