BRADLEY Neil may not be a name familiar to many readers but it might just be one to remember after he claimed the British Amateur Championship on Sunday.
A 2&1 victory in the 36-hole final at Royal Portrush saw the 18-year-old become the youngest Scot ever to lift the trophy and only the second winner from north of the border since the turn of the century.
It also earned him invitations to next month’s Open, the 2015 US Open and next year’s Masters – a phenomenal start to any young player’s career and a wonderful motivating factor at this event.
Neil had to show grit as well as class to win it. Several times he got up and down to halve holes and stay in the hunt against South African Zander Lombard. He also had to keep his nerve, having suffered defeat in a play-off for the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy just two weeks earlier. I wish him luck for what looks a very promising career.
Someone who knows about being tipped as the next big thing is Michelle Wie, the former child prodigy who won her first Major title, aged 24, at the US Women’s Open at the weekend.
In some ways she has had an easy career, with plenty of support from sponsors, but in another she has had it very tough, having to endure some difficult performances in the full glare of the public eye. It wasn’t her fault but she was probably over-publicised since emerging as a 15-year-old almost a decade ago. Through it all she has always seemed really nice and has kept plugging away, so it’s great to see her finally fulfil that promise. Hopefully it’ll be the first of many Major titles for Wie.
She wasn’t the only one to impress: Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow finished third on her first professional outing. Winning aside, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Well done also to Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, who triumphed at the Irish Open and is now on the brink of breaking into the world’s top 50, which would guarantee entry to Majors and WGC events.
It also boosts his hopes of making the Ryder Cup, and Sergio Garcia cemented his place with a tie for second at the Travelers Championship – his sixth top 10 on the PGA Tour this year. Garcia can count himself slightly unlucky not to have won at the weekend, but for an extraordinary finish of seven birdies on the last seven holes from American Kevin Streelman.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam