Bradley Neil took pride of place on an encouraging day for Scotland’s up-and-coming players as the 21-year-old from Blairgowrie showed nerves of steel to secure a step up to the European Tour next season, writes Martin Dempster.
Under the most pressure he’s ever faced, Neil closed with a three-under-par 69, holing a three-foot par putt at the last, to clinch the 15th and final card up for grabs on the main circuit off the Challenge Tour. It was a brilliant effort from the former Amateur champion, who’d slipped outside the top 15 after the penultimate event of the season and sat 18th on the projected standings heading into the closing round in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Oman.
“I thought I was inside when I saw a leaderboard at the 15th, but you just never know until it’s done and dusted,” said a delighted Neil after his last final push secured a tie for ninth spot in an event won by Frenchman Clement Sordet at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat. “It is tough to focus on your game in a position like that and you have to be strong mentally. It’s been a long, long season. It was horrible coming in here in 16th position.”
In another boost for the Scottish game, Gemma Dryburgh closed with a superb 67 to secure a top-10 finish behind India’a Aditi Ashok in the LET’s Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi. Backing up her recent success in making it to the final of the LPGA Qualifying School, Dryburgh finished on 12-under-par, six behind former St Rule Trophy winner Ashok, to pick up around £11,000. In an event that saw Catriona Matthew finish joint-38th, Ashok, 19, held off England’s Georgia Hall to earned her third LET triumph in 12 months.
Elsewhere, Ewen Ferguson, Connor Syme and David Law are all on course to progress in the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Spain. Ferguson backed up an opening 68 with a 69 to sit joint-fourth on seven-under at El Saler, while Syme (67-67) and Law (63-71) are in the same position on eight-under at the halfway stage at Las Colinas. All on five-under, Scott Henry (70-69), Liam Johnston (68-71) and Daniel Young (70-69) are tied for 26th at Desert Springs while amateur Craig Howie (68-70) sits joint-21st on four-under at Panormica.