Fresh from signing off a glittering amateur career with an appearance in the US Open Championship, Bradley Neil will make his debut in the professional ranks in this week’s SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
The participation of last year’s Amateur Champion will further enhance what is already one of the premier tournaments on the European Challenge Tour, as Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club, in the town of Aviemore, hosts the €250,000 event for the seventh successive season.
Neil became Amateur Champion 12 months ago when he defeated South African Zander Lombard 2&1 in the final at Royal Portrush Golf Club, a victory which earned him exemptions for last year’s Open Championship and both the Masters Tournament and US Open Championship this year.
And whilst he was ultimately unable to make the cut at the demanding Chambers Bay last week, signing off with a round of 73 for a nine over par aggregate total, the 19 year old feels the time is now right to relinquish his amateur status.
He said: “After winning the Amateur Championship, it’s been so good to get the chance to play in three Majors and a bunch of European Tour events. That’s why I feel so prepared to turn pro now.
“It’s the next step. I’ve made a lot of steps through the ranks in my short time as a golfer, but this is the biggest step and probably the most challenging step I’ll ever take. But the way I played in the second round last week gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of this year as a pro.
“I’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s not going to be easy, because I know how much work I need to do, but I’m sure it’s going to be fun.”
The opening chapter of Neil’s professional career will take place on Macdonald Spey Valley’s 7,108 yards, par 71 course, a venue the 19 year old from Blairgowrie knows well.
He said: “Making your pro debut anywhere is special, but to do it in my home country will be extra special. It’s also nice to start my pro career on a course I know and if I play as well as I know I can, I should hopefully be able to make the cut and take home my first paycheque.
“It’s a fairly long course so you need to play well off the tee, but my driving is one of my strengths so hopefully that should give me a bit of an advantage. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The tournament was won last year by England’s Andrew Johnston, who later finished the season top of the Challenge Tour Rankings.