IT’S been a tough shift but Bradley Neil has certainly earned the right to play on the European Tour.

Two years of chipping away at the coalface has just about left the Blairgowrie youngster covered in a dusting of soot but he reaped the rewards at the weekend when he grabbed the 15th and last promotion place to the main circuit at a nail-nibbling Challenge Tour Grand Final.

Neil was 16th on the rankings going into the all-or-nothing shootout and was 18th on the projected rankings with one round to play.

Loading article content

In one of the biggest mental tests of his fledgling career, though, the 21-year-old coped with the kind of high pressure that would crack the port hole of a bathysphere and posted a spirited 69 to finish in a tie for ninth on the leaderboard and haul himself into the card-winning places.

One man delighted with Neil’s sterling efforts was Justin Rose, who is in the same management company as the Scot.

In his first 24 events as a professional, Neil made the cut just four times during a tough transition. Rose could sympathise. He missed his first 21 in a row when he joined the paid ranks.

“It’s really easy to come out and make cuts in your first year,” said Rose with a wry grin. “I could feel his pain there.”

From that torrid start, Rose went on the establish himself as one of the world’s golfing powers and the former US Open champion and Olympic gold medal winner insists that Neil’s early struggles will stand him in good stead.

“Listen, it didn’t do me too badly,” said Rose. “Bradley is sticking with it. When I turned pro, I had a three year plan and part of that was to spend a bit of time on the Challenge Tour and earn my stripes there.

“That was my goal and that’s how I thought I’d graduate through. He’s following that similar path. Sometimes there’s no shortcut. You have to do the hard yards, and he’s doing it really well.”

After winning the Amateur Championship in 2014, Neil’s stock was rocketing and he was eventually snapped up by the Excel Sports Management group which also looks after a certain Tiger Woods.

“Paul McDonnell, who has been my best friend since I was 11, is my manager in the UK and he really liked Bradley’s game and signed him,” added Rose.

“It was Paul’s first signing. So I’ve always had a kind of added incentive to pull for Bradley.”

And as for Neil’s career-changing final round at the weekend which got him a ticket to tour?

“Absolutely brilliant,” beamed Rose. “That’s a really ballsy round.”