• Talks about the Crow's Nest and playing with Rory
• "I'd give so much to go back there," said the 20-year-old
BRADLEY NEIL | THE MASTERS
“I’ve lost sleep over that place, honestly,” says an enthused Bradley Neil as he recounts his epic adventure to The Masters.
This time last year, the 20-year-old was living the dream – playing at Augusta National, mixing it with then world No.1 Rory McIlroy, attending dinners and basically sampling all the tournament had to offer as his reward for winning the 2014 Amateur Championship.
Another one of those perks was the honour of staying in the Crow’s Nest and Neil described exactly what the experience of staying in the 30x40ft room in the clubhouse’s upstairs was like – and what he and the other amateurs got up to.
"We watched the ’97 Masters when Tiger destroyed it" - Bradley Neil
“It was so special,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “On the night that I stayed, there was me and three other amateurs. On all the old pictures of the Crow’s Nest, they show no TV. Now they’ve got one, but it must be only about 19”, and me and the other three guys were crowded around watching it.
“All of the old official Masters films were available to watch starting from 1960. We watched the ’97 Masters when Tiger destroyed it and when he won again in 2005, just to see that chip again. The TV was one modern amenity in a traditional setting, but it wasn’t out of place.
“They don’t really need the TV to be fair. What better thing for an amateur golfer, who lives and breathes the game, than to be sleeping in the historic Crow’s Nest at the best golf club in the world. For every amateur that goes in there, they join an illustrious list including Tiger, and to say I’ve been a part of that is incredibly special.”
Prior to his night in the Crow’s Nest, Neil played a practice round with McIlroy, with the Northern Irishman true to his word after the pair had initially spoke about playing together when they met at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“The Friday before the Masters, we were both having breakfast at the same time in the clubhouse and we chatted,” said Neil. “Rory said ‘Do you want to play 18 holes on Monday?’ and I was like, ‘Of course’, so he wrote his number down on a Masters napkin for me – and that same napkin is in my room at home now!
“When we played, I wanted to ask him about the Grand Slam, but I thought it would be the least coolest thing I could do as every press conference he was going in he was getting asked about it. It’s inevitable that he will win it, and I’d have a lot of money on him doing it within the next five years.”
But a Masters napkin signed by McIlroy, as well as pictures of playing alongside the four-time major winner in their practice round together, isn’t the best gift Neil brought back from Augusta.
"I can’t reiterate enough how special the place is" - Bradley Neil
“I’ve got a Masters ball marker which I’ve used for the past year but the best thing that I’ve got in my room by far is the yardage book that I used for the week signed by Jack Nicklaus. That’s pretty cool – and I’ll keep that for the rest of my life. There’s no way that anyone else is getting a hold of that!
“I can’t reiterate enough how special the place is. The amount of times in the last year I’ve gone to bed and just started thinking about it, then reliving everything that happened. I’d give so much to go back there, and it means I’ve got to sacrifice so many hours. I could probably go back there to watch it – but that’s not what I want to do.”