Neil beats Lombard for Amateur title
Former Scottish Boys champion Bradley Neil claimed one of amateur golf’s most prestigious prizes on Sunday when he defeated South Africa’s Zander Lomabrd 2 & 1 in the 36-hole match play final at Royal Portrush.
Neil, at 18 the youngest Scot ever to lift the title and the first to do so in 10 years, gained automatic spots in next month’s Open Championship and the 2015 US Open with his victory, and could possibly also earn an invitation to the Masters at Augusta National next year.
While the victory will also launch Neil into the top 10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Lombard will receive an equally valuable boost to break into the top 40 in the world.
Neil’s victory followed just two weeks after he lost the St Andrews Links Trophy in a play-off to fellow Scot, Grant Forrest.
The two finalists had to endure weather disruptions and a tense wait earlier in the week, but once they made the field, stormed through the match section to the final.
The match was a closely fought affair, with 19-year-old Lombard moving ahead at various points during the opening 18 holes. Turning all square, the pair remained neck-and-neck until the back nine of the closing round, when two errors by Lombard allowed Neil to move four up with four to play.
Even then, the match wasn’t over, as Lombard birdied the 15th and 16th – before Neil closed out the match with a par on the 17th.
“I have to say thumbs up to Bradley, he’s an awesome golfer with a lot of talent,” Lombard said.
Following his victory, Neil said the Major invitations served as extra motivation to claim the prized title.
“You think about the prizes on offer for winning here coming into the week – and then you think about it every day when you are here,” he said.
“It means a lot to me to have the chance to compete with major champions. It will be fantastic, it will be a strong test and it will be good to see how my game copes.
“To play in front of big crowds like this was incredible. I would like to thank my caddie Michael Stewart. This win is not just for me it is for everyone that has helped me. I am so proud that my name will be added to the list of past winners.”
With thanks to the Daily Mail for the quotations and Getty Images for the Bradley Neil trophy photograph.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.