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Alfred Dunhill Links helped me win Amateur

July 18, 2014

New Amateur Champion Bradley Neil has revealed that his positive experience at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last September played a significant part in his stunning victory at Royal Portrush last week.

Bradley, the 18-year-old from Blairgowrie, said: "Playing in the Alfred Dunhill definitely helped me to win the Amateur. Being in that final group on the Sunday was massive. Walking the fairways with big galleries and the TV cameras on you and being able to learn to cope made it easier to deal with the pressure at the British Amateur."

Bradley was teamed up with young American professional Peter Uihlein and had the unique thrill of playing the 18th on the Old Course in the final group in the last round of the Alfred Dunhill Links. Uihlein eventually lost in a sudden death play-off to David Howell, while Neil and Uihlein finished runners-up in the Team Championship.

Bradley, then Scottish Boys champion, was an 11th hour replacement for American rock star Huey Lewis, who had to pull out with a shoulder injury. He recalls: "It was about 10pm on the Tuesday night when I got the call. At the start of the first day it was 'Uihlein and Lewis' on the leaderboards. I thought it was maybe not a bad thing being the lead singer for one of the most famous bands, but it was nice when they changed it to 'Uihlein and Neil'.

"I drive the ball off the tee the same distances as the pro's, but playing with the pro's made me realise there are so many little things that these guys can do that I could improve on. Playing in the Dunhill gave me the determination to work harder to get where I want to be," he added.

Bradley received a congratulations e-mail from Huey Lewis, after his Amateur Championship victory.  "Huey joked that as he had graciously dropped out of the Dunhill so I could jump start my career he was claiming a 10% lifetime fee of my earnings. I'm not sure about that, but it would be great in the future in the Dunhill as a professional, playing with him as the amateur. That would be a great story."

He also paid tribute to Alfred Dunhill for the backing it has given golf in Scotland. "Alfred Dunhill has been supporting golf at St Andrews for 30 years, longer than I have been alive. Dunhill have made this one of the biggest tournaments in golf.

"And I would like to thank Johann Rupert. He made it possible for young Scottish amateurs to go to South Africa in the winter to practise. I was there in January this year and I don't know if I would have been able to compete so well and win if it hadn't been for his support. Being able to keep our golf going in the winter and to be able to practise in such good weather so early in the year was a massive help."

Victory in the Amateur Championship puts Bradley Neil on a fast track to becoming a professional. Over the next year he will now be invited to play in the Open Championship at Hoylake, the US Masters at Augusta and the US Open at Chambers Bay next June.

"Playing in three Majors, and other invitations I might get, will give me the opportunity to prove myself at the highest level. I think The Open at Hoylake could be my best chance to do well. Amateurs have always done well in The Open because anyone from the UK gets to play more links golf and the amateurs play even more links golf than the professionals. We don't need to change our game much."

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which celebrates links golf at its finest, is played over three of the world's best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links. This year the Championship will be played from Thursday, October 2 to Sunday, October 5.

This is the 30th year in which Alfred Dunhill has supported golf in St Andrews, beginning in 1985 with the Alfred Dunhill Cup, then from 2001 with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.

Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be FREE at all three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £20 (concessionary £15) will be charged for the final day's play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 5.  Entry for under 16s and students is free. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0870 010 9021 or at the entrance gates. 

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