Open 2014: Tiger Woods, Huey Lewis and the amateur champion
Less than a week after winning the British Amateur crown, Bradley Neil spent an afternoon familiarising himself with the Hoylake course on which he will make his Open Championship debut.
The 18-year-old was impressed, but not daunted. "I see the Open as my best chance," says the Scot of the first of three invites to majors that accompany his amateur victory at Royal Portrush.
Best chance of making the cut? Of finishing highest amateur?
"Best chance of winning it," he insists. "The pros don't play much links golf and, while they can adapt, I've had to play these imaginative shots all year.
"If I prepare as well as I did for the Amateur, I don't see why I can't do just as well in the Open."
It is a bold assertion but one delivered without hubris. Since 1998, England's Justin Rose and Chris Wood have both recorded top-five Open finishes while amateurs and Neil genuinely believes that he too has the game to compete with the world's best.
He points to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship of 2013, in which he drew praise from Ernie Els and partnered Peter Uihlein to second place in the team event.
Indeed, the world number 107 was so impressed by his team-mate that he donated his £10,000 prize money to the Scottish Golf Union on the condition it was used to help Neil's development.
Such support will prove invaluable, given he has no immediate desire to turn professional. Neil's focus is fixed on the Junior Ryder Cup at his home club in Blairgowrie on 22-23 September, then the Walker Cup next year.
His exploits have also attracted attention not only from the golfing community but the entertainment industry.
Neil's involvement in the Dunhill came as a late replacement for Huey Lewis and the American singer and Perthshire teenager have struck up an unlikely friendship.
"It's bizarre but he emailed me his congratulations after the Amateur," explains Neil. "Huey said 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.
"After that, I thought I should go and listen to Huey Lewis and the News and it's good stuff."
A diplomatic answer perhaps, but then politeness is a feature of a conversation with Neil. He is determined to reply to every well-wisher - "it's a courtesy if they take the time for you to take the time back".
And he chose to abandon a sports development course last year because he felt his regular absences were not fair on his tutors.
|Who is Bradley Neil?|
|Born 16 January, 1996Member of Blairgowrie Golf Club|
|2014Won British Amateur Championship|
|2013Joint runner-up with Peter Uihlein in the Alfred Dunhill Links Pro-AmWon Scottish Boys ChampionshipHelped Team GB to gold at the Australian Youth Olympic FestivalMade debut for Scotland Men's team at the European Team Championship|
The teenager attributes such behaviour to the influence of his father Rod, mother Amanda and older brother Connor but also to golf; a game he believes has forced him to grow up quickly.
His maturity is such that it is easy to forget just how young he is. Take his favourite golfing memory - Tiger Woods' remarkable holed chip on the 16th at Augusta in the 2005 Masters. Neil was seven years old.
A picture of that iconic moment adorns his Facebook page and it is one he intends to attempt to replicate when he takes up another major invite next April.
"The Masters is the one that stands out," says Neil, who will also receive entry to the US Open and the US Amateur Championship.
Neil hopes to have courtesy of the Augusta course so that he can practise before the Masters. "I'm hoping to get over for a week or two before the end of the year, then again in February, so I'm well prepared for the event itself," he added.
"Winning the Amateur has opened up more doors than I could have imagined and I'm looking forward to taking full advantage of those opportunities."
|The Open Championship|
|Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake Date: 17-20 July|
|Coverage: Live and uninterrupted on BBC Two from 14:00 BST, live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 09:00 and live video, radio commentary and live text commentary on BBC Sport website, mobile and app|