by the Scottish Golf UnionDUNDEE, Scotland (July 28, 2014) -- Bradley Neil tonight played down his top seed status at the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship, despite easing into round two at Downfield.
The 18-year-old claimed The Amateur Championship title at Royal Portrush six weeks ago and savoured the experience of playing in The Open earlier this month as a result of his achievement.
Neil left Hoylake for a holiday in Portugal with his girlfriend, Rosie, and her family and feels his batteries are now recharged for what could be a long week in Angus.
The Blairgowrie player reached the second round with a comfortable 5&4 win over Ellis Hart of Dullatur, setting up a clash with Bathgate’s 16-year-old Joseph Bryce, selected for next week’s Boys Home Internationals at Western Gailes.
However, Neil is only playing in the Scottish Amateur for the second time, knocked out in round two on home turf last year, so admits there are various players vying for the silverware at the former Open qualifying venue.
“It’s a little weird to be top seed,” admitted Neil, among the players who savoured a glorious day of weather on the opening day of the championship. “I know I’m Amateur champion, but you look at the other guys and what they have won.
“Alexander Culverwell is the defending champion, Grant Forrest won it in 2012 and was the winner of the St Andrews Links Trophy this year. There are a lot of good players.
“It was a good start, you just try and get past the first round and get your week going. I’ve a tough draw, although anyone could say that. You have to beat the player on the day. I made a few schoolboy mistakes today, but the longer I go in the week hopefully the rust will brush off.”
Culverwell started his defence with a slender one-hole victory over West Lothian’s Myles Johnston, while fourth seed Jack McDonald saw off Sam MacNeil (Aboyne) 6&4.
Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson, the first player to hold the British Boys and Scottish Boys matchplay and strokeplay titles at the same time, also progressed, defeating Rob Paterson of Kilspindie 2&1.
“I actually prefer stroke play, being on my own and making a score, but I don’t think I’ve lost in matchplay since the South Africa Test match in the spring,” said Ewen. “I won the Scottish Boys and then was unbeaten in my singles ties at the European Boys.
“I think I’ve got a tough draw this week, but if you are going to win you have to beat the best players.”
Downfield member Stewart Smith kept the home flag flying by securing his place in round two, but there was a surprise as Craigie Hill’s Daniel Young lost out to Ryan Campbell (Falkirk) at the 19th.
Late in the day there was an every bigger shock as fifth seed James Ross, who recently performed so well as an amateur in the EuroPro Tour event at his home club of Royal Burgess, lost to Allan Johnston of Bonnyton 3&2.
The 2005 Scottish Amateur champion Glenn Campbell was the first player to progress early in the day, but Auchterarder’s Graham Lowson, winner of the event at Downfield in 1991, fell at the first hurdle to John Duff by 2&1.
There was better news for another Auchterarder player, Martin Rogalksi, as the reigning UK Amateur Long Drive champion progressed against Glenbervie’s Mark Hislop on the 18th.
Monifieth’s Chris Hutcheon, nephew of local golfing hero Ian Hutcheon, did make it through with a 3&2 win over Musselburgh Old Course’s Nathan Free.
Meanwhile, Royal Aberdeen’s Nick MacAndrew hopes he can regain his early season form to produce his best-ever performance at the Scottish Amateur.
MacAndrew won the Battle Trophy on the SGU Men’s Order of Merit earlier in the season but has struggled to find his top form since. On day one in Dundee, MacAndrew was in the third game out and raced to a 5&3 success over Graeme Tinlin of Hawick 5&3.
“I had a good start to the season, winning the Battle Trophy and finishing in the top-20 in Ireland, but I’ve not done so well since,” said MacAndrew. “I’ve been in good positions, five shots ahead at the Cameron Corbett for example, but then not gone on to win.
“I’ve played in this event three times and never been past the fourth round so hopefully I can go on a run.”
Another north-east player, Adam Dunton, was a comfortable winner, 7&6 over Jonathon Brown of Haggs Castle, but there was not such good news for Deeside’s Michael Lawrie, watched by his father Paul, who qualified at Downfied before winning the 1999 Open, after he exited 5&4 to Duncan Cairnie (Carnoustie Caledonia).
Meanwhile, Glencruitten’s Robert MacIntyre, the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters champion, was forced to withdraw from the event as he arranges a visa for going abroad.