To the casual observer, a fourth place finish in the Stone Irish Challenge may not be seen as much of a reason to hang out the bunting.

For Bradley Neil, however, it was one of the most important results of his career and just about led to him commissioning a commemorative dish cloot.

“Ireland was a mini miracle really,” said the Blairgowrie youngster of a recent high finish that had two significant spin-offs.

It preserved his status on the second-tier Challenge Tour, as he held on to his card by his gnawed finger tips, while his elevation up the rankings ensured that he would earn a place in next week’s second stage of the European Tour’s qualifying school.

Having stumbled at the first hurdle of the q-school process last month, this was a timely mulligan.

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Suddenly, things are looking a lot more rosy for Neil. It wasn’t that long ago that the 23-year-old was playing in the Masters (pictured), The Open and the US Open as the Amateur champion.

Promotion to the main European circuit was achieved when he turned pro but golf has a habit of bringing you back down to earth with the kind of painful dunt that would have had Icarus peering on through his hands and cringing, ‘blimey, that’s a sair yin’.

A morale-sapping rookie year on the tour in 2018 led to demotion back to the Challenge Tour and, until that fourth place on the Emerald Isle, Neil was facing the prospect of relegation to the wilds of professional golf’s third-tier. The reality of his plight was jarringly sobering.

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“Before that fourth place finish I was thinking about part-time work in the winter and wondering whether I should take a job at a driving range or go abroad and be a caddie,” said Neil. “When your livelihood is on the line, it’s not a nice place to be in.”

Never short of confidence, or a word or two, Neil was tipped as Scottish golf’s next big thing after a shimmering amateur career but the rigours of a rough introduction to life at the top table last year certainly had an impact on his youthful joie de vivre.

“I always came across as a person with loads of confidence but, last year, that was just a front,” he admitted. “I was so low after playing so badly for so long.

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“You’re watching others around you do well and you are just falling away. The worst thing about golf is that when you are doing well, you’re never short of people to speak to. Your phone is ringing, you have constant messages.

“When you’re playing badly, though, it gets harder to find people you can throw all your problems on to and who are willing to listen.

“But hopefully I’m getting back to the outlook of Bradley Neil at 17, 18 years of age when I wasn’t afraid of anybody or anything. The professional game has humbled me a lot but I hope I can get back to being that person again with a very individual mind set and a belief that I can win.”

Given his tender years, Neil has plenty of time on his side in this game of wildly fluctuating fortunes.

A year ago, the qualifying school was a deflating, anguish-laden and ultimately fruitless trudge at the end of a trying season. It’s a bit different this time and the second chance he has been afforded is being grasped with both hands.

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“I’m almost ecstatic to be going to the q-school,” said Neil, of next week’s 72-hole shoot-out which precedes the six-round q-school final.

“I’ve been given a second chance at it and maybe it’s time for a turnaround in my career? I’m only 23. I feel about 30, though.

“I’d always encourage as many people as possible to play golf for its health benefits. But doing it for a living? Thankfully I don’t have any grey hairs … yet.”