Golf: Campbell and Neil set for generation game

Bradley Neil faces clubmate Glenn Campbell in the fourth round. Picture: Getty
Bradley Neil faces clubmate Glenn Campbell in the fourth round. Picture: Getty
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GLENN Campbell, the winner nine years ago, faces “some wee upstart from Blairgowrie” in this morning’s fourth round of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Downfield.

He was referring jokingly to his clubmate, Amateur champion Bradley Neil, who goes into their mouth-watering clash in Dundee as a heavy favourite but knows from experience that his older opponent can’t be treated lightly.

“I remember Glenn shooting eight-under here in a County event a few years back,” recalled Neil, the 18-year-old top seed, after setting up the last-32 showdown with a 5&3 success over Longniddry’s Michael Bacigalupo. Campbell, now 41, lifted the title at Southerness but the father of four rarely plays in national events these days. He’s still useful, though, as he proved in beating Royal Aberdeen’s Nick Macandrew, this year’s Battle Trophy winner, by two holes.

“It’s 1-0 to me as I beat Bradley in the County Championship quarter-finals at Blairgowrie in 2010,” declared Campbell, a greenkeeper at North Insch in Perth. Recalling that defeat, Neil admitted it had been a learning experience. “I had a putt from six feet at the sixth to go two up but made such a bad effort that I dragged it back,” he said.

“That, of course, was an instant concession of the hole and it was the turning point. I was only 14 at the time – and that won’t be happening tomorrow.”

While Campbell was Blairgowrie’s standard bearer at one time, Neil is their current poster boy after winning the amateur game’s blue riband event at Portrush last month. “I’ve seen his potential since he was ten or 11 and he won our club championship at 14,” said Campbell. “He’s worked hard and is reaping the rewards. I hope he goes on but not tomorrow.”

The older man will be relying on accuracy rather than power. “He outdrives me by a comfy 60-70 yards,” said Campbell. “But I’ll be hitting to the green first and I think this course favours the guy who keeps it in play.”

Team-mates in the Perth & Kinross side that won the Scottish Area Team Championship in 2012, the pair are good friends and the banter had started as soon as the clash materialised. Neil revealed he’d hit a gap wedge for his second into the 498-yard par-5 11th whereas Campbell required a 6-iron. “What did you make?” asked Campbell. “I birdied it,” beamed Neil. “I eagled it,” retorted Campbell in a flash, knowing there was a good chance he’d claim that particular bragging right.

As the wheat gets separated from the chaff, former Stirling University team-mates Zander Culverwell (Dunbar) and Jack McDonald (Barassie) are among the others still standing in the SGU’s flagship event.

Culverwell is feeling a sense of déjà vu as he bids to become the first player to make a successful defence of the title since Charlie Green in 1983. It follows him winning a “scrappy” third-round match against Thornhill’s Greig Marchbank by one hole to set up a clash with Kyle McClung of Wigtownshire. “I played Greig at almost the same stage last year and it’s the same with Kyle,” said Culverwell, whose next opponent received an early passage into the fourth round when Royal Troon’s Paul Moultrie was forced to retire just after the turn due to a bad back.

Others to make impressive progress so far include Stewart Smith, a five-times Downfield champion, and Meldrum House man Chris Robb, impressive winner of both the East of Scotland Open and Cameron Corbett Vase earlier in the summer.

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