Scotland’s only player in The Junior Ryder Cup admits being selected for Team Europe for next week's tournament was the biggest relief of his golfing career.
Bradley Neil says not being picked would have been a huge disappointment in a season which saw him crowned The Amateur Champion and compete in The Open at Hoylake. The 18 year-old from Blairgowrie will be playing in the junior team tournament at his home club from Saturday 20 to Tuesday 23 September.
The current seventh-best amateur in the world said: “It’s probably the biggest relief of my whole golfing career! I was so close two years ago to making that team and getting pipped to that just made me want to make it a little bit more but especially when at the end of that season I found out where the Junior Ryder Cup would be held.
“To be in Blairgowrie, it’s my home club and where everything started for me. It’s where I played my first medal, got my first handicap, hit my first golf ball. They’ve been a massive, massive support to my development, and for me not to make that team would have been a huge disappointment for the season even though what I’ve achieved.”
Bradley also helped Great Britain & Ireland win the St Andrews Trophy last month in Sweden. He is a product of the Scottish Golf Academy, coached by Kevin Hale, and is a current member of the SGU Men’s National Squad.
“That’s why I say relief at making that team because there was a lot of expectations not just from myself”, he added, “but from people at the club as it’s a massive thing to hold such an event. But to have not even just a Scottish player, but to have an actual local club player who is a member of the club playing for Team Europe at that event is massive.”
This is the first year the biennial team contest between the best under-18 players in Europe and the USA has been held in the same country and at the same time as The Ryder Cup. Europe is captained by Forfar’s Stuart Wilson, the last Scot to win the Amateur Championship before Bradley.
ClubGolf, the national junior programme, is inviting families and clubs to join in free activities on practice days, which include skills-based games and challenges, on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September.
The Junior Ryder Cup teams will also be taking on a ClubGolf challenge on Saturday, while the opening ceremony takes place on Sunday afternoon. The Blairgowrie boy is hoping young golfers will come along over the weekend.
He said: “You definitely get better access. You get to see more. I mean, I feel even at The Open I was able to interact a lot more with the crowds and I think that’ll probably be the same at the practice days at the Junior Ryder Cup.
“I’ve had to work hard for everything I’ve got. I hope young kids coming to watch, I really hope they can see wow, there’s a home player playing in this event and it hope it inspires them to work at it.
“You don’t have to buy a ticket for this event and I really hope people still come and watch even if it isn’t the greatest weather. People will still go and watch the main Ryder Cup so I really hope that they see that the same way and still come along and see what the Junior Ryder Cup is all about - Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia have played in this event.”
Families and groups can book into one-hour long ClubGolf activity by calling 01334 466 494 during office hours or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full event details can be found at clubgolfscotland.com/juniorrydercup
Watch the video of Bradley Neil speaking to ClubGolf here