It’s been a tough start to life in the paid ranks for Bradley Neil, but the 20-year-old from Blairgowrie is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Buoyed by making it to the final stage of the recent Qualifying School final and playing in all six rounds in Spain, he joined Stephen Gallacher and Ross Kellett in making the cut in the Australian PGA Championship.
After an opening 72 at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Neil was perilously close to the projected cut mark after going out in two-over 38 in his second circuit.
The 2013 Amateur champion has definitely regained his confidence, though, and that was evident as he birdied the first, eighth and ninth to come home in a splendid three-under 33.
On one-under overall, Neil progressed comfortably in joint-32nd and was delighted that he’d got a monkey off his back.
“I just played solid,” he told The Scotsman. “I knew I had to hit fairways and greens to give myself a chance.
“The birdie at the was most important. I didn’t know what cut was at time and I thought that gave me some space.
“I’ve learned from past experience in those situations that you’ve just got to keep playing to climb the leaderboard instead of just making cut on number.”
Gallacher added a three-under 69 to his steady 72 on Thursday to sit joint-17th on three-under.
The 2014 Ryder Cup player was one-under for his second round before reeling off three consecutive birdies from the seventh to turn in 32.
He then moved to five-under for the tournament and into the top 10 before dropping shots at both the 17th and 18th in a disappointing finish.
Among the players having to return today to complete their opening rounds after thunderstorms halted play on Thursday, Kellett opened with a 71 before heading straight back out to add a 73 to sit on level-par.
The Motherwell man was one-under after 13 holes before taking double-bogey at the 14th but, thankfully, he made it with a two shots to spare.
Duncan Stewart, the fourth Scot in the field, was the odd one out as he was undone by two bad holes in quick succession on the back nine.
After opening with a 73, the World Cup man was out in two-under 34 before running up two double bogeys in the space of four holes from the 13th as he signed for a 75.
On four-over, the Grantown-on-Spey man missed the cut by two shots in the end.
Australian Andrew Dodt, the overnight leader, cemented his place in top spot with a 67. It left him on 12-under, two shots ahead of compatriot Ashley Hall.
“The job’s only half done, so I need to keep in the same mind-set that I’ve had for the first two days,” said Dodt.
Former winner and last year’s runner-up Adam Scott carded a second consecutive 68 to sit four shots behind the leader.
Also set to pick up pay cheques in their first outing of the new season are Scott Jamieson and David Drysdale as they both made the cut comfortably in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
New dad Jamieson, who’d opened with a 67 at Leopard Creek, shared the lead after moving to seven-under for the tournament early on in his second round.
A double-bogey at the first - his tenth - took the wind out of the Glaswegian’s sails, but, helped by three birdies in the next six holes, he carded a 71.
On six-under, Jamieson is lying joint-14th, five shots behind new leader Brandon Stone after he edged ahead of fellow home player and event specialist Charl Schwartzel.
“While it was a bit up and down, I was delighted with -5 after five weeks off,” said Jamieson of his opening effort.
“Today’s round was probably more solid. I just got a bit unlucky at the first, but I’m still in the mix heading into the weekend.”
Drysdale, who just loves playing in South Africa, battled to a 71 - it was an up-and-down affair that contained four birdies - to sit joint-32nd on three-under.
There was disappointment for Scott Henry on his first European Tour outing since graduating from the Qualifying School a fortnight ago with flying colours,
The Clydebank man missed the cut by three shots after a 74, finishing bogey-bogey. It was a sore early exit for Henry after he’d been four-under standing on the 13th tee in the opening round.
On a South African-dominated leaderboard, Stone, who carded an eagle and six birdies in a 66, is a shot ahead of four-time winner Schwartzel (68) and England’s Chris Hanson (65).
George Coetzee is a shot further back after coming home in 29, six-under, in his 65 while another of the host country’s big guns, Brandon Grace, is also in the mix on eight-under.
Elsewhere, Catriona Matthew won her opening match for the Ladies European Tour team in The Queens presented by Kowa in Japan.
The Scottish No 1 joined forces with Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen to beat Australians Sarah Kemp and Stacey Keating 2&1 in the third foursomes match.
Three up after eight holes, the Europeans lost the ninth and 10th but won the par-3 13th with a bogey.
Although they lost the 16th, the Australians were in a heap of bother from the 17th tee after hitting into the trees right of the fairway and the LET representatives won with a par.
“It was a tricky day out there in the wind and playing foursomes, so we did what we had to, to win,” said Matthew.
With eight points after winning all four of their matches, the LPGA of Japan team holds a four point lead over the Korean LPGA and Ladies European Tour.
“We’ve got off to a good start and it’s always a happier camp when you’re doing well,” added Matthew, who has been paired with England’s Georgia Hall for tomorrow’s fourballs and is out first against another Australian pair, Katherine Kirk and Lauren Hibbert.