Bradley Neil has hailed the influence of Olympic champion Justin Rose as he reflects on the best year of his young career to date.
The 21-year-old graduated from the Challenge Tour in November and has already played three times on the European Tour this season, making the cut on his first start in Hong Kong before missed cuts at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and Joburg Open.
In Hong Kong, he met up with Rose – a fellow client of Excel Sports Management – prior to the event and said having the 2013 US Open champion’s backing throughout the early stages of career has been a huge boost.
“To make the weekend in Hong Kong I finished birdie-birdie and on 18, I had my manager and Justin watching,” said Neil, who was speaking at the annual prizegiving at his home club of Blairgowrie.
“When I holed that putt those guys made the biggest roar. Having that support was incredible. Ever since we first made contact after the Amateur win and played together at The Open, Justin has always taken an interest in how I’m progressing.
“He had guys like Faldo and other tour legends that took him under their wings when he was younger and maybe he feels he is at that stage in his own career where he can help the younger guys coming up and nurture them.
“It’s great having someone like Justin looking out for you. He isn’t just a great golfer but a real gentleman as well – a role model for any young golfer. He is the complete professional.”
Neil plans to enjoy a Christmas break with the family and take time to reflect on the past 12 months but was quick to take up the invitation to attend the junior prizegiving at Blairgowrie, where he won the junior championship at the age of 13 and followed it up with the men’s title 12 months later.
“It’s been a crazy few years for me,” he added. “I was delighted to be asked to present the trophies to the club’s juniors and it’s hard to believe it’s just three years since I was junior captain.
“If I can do anything to support the young golfers I will do my best.”
And now Neil has fulfilled his ambition of making it to Europe’s top tier, he is only too aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
“I felt at home [in the three events] and absolutely loved it,” he said. “I was getting used to the idea that this is where I have to earn my money now.
“Everyone is telling me the hard work starts here. But it’s not as if I didn’t appreciate that myself. I have come out of a tough league but this is the big league now.”