Scotland's Bradley Neil won the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush today after a closely fought final with South African Zander Lombard.
Neil clinched the match with a half on the par 5 35th hole for a 2&1 victory in the 36-hole final. The 18-year-old Blairgowrie golfer became the first Scot to win the Amateur Championship since Stuart Wilson at St Andrews in 2004.
Neil's form on the back nine and coolness under pressure helped him clinch the title and earned him a place in next month's Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay and a traditional invitation to the Masters.
"To play in front of big crowds like this is incredible," he said. "I would like to thank my caddie Michael Stewart. This win is not just for me it is for everyone that has helped me. I am so proud that my name will be added to the list of past winners.
"It means a lot to me to have the chance to compete with Major champions in The Open. It will be fantastic it will be a strong test and it will be good to see how my game copes.
"Zander is a brilliant guy and we have been good friends for the last six months. He is a very strong, determined player. He didn't make it easy for me. He's got a lot of game and he is a really good talent."
Despite his disappointment, the 19-year-old Lombard, who was hoping to become only the second South African winner after Bobby Cole in 1966, was delighted to have reached the final and has earned a place in Final Qualifying for The Open.
"I'm very pleased with my achievement," he said. "My golf's been good all week. We both played really solid today and I have to say thumbs up to Bradley, he's an awesome golfer with a lot of talent. We are pretty good friends and it is always nice having really good company on the golf course.
"We both just made a lot of pars and played really solid golf without making any mistakes. I had a few errant shots around the turn of the afternoon round but all in all I am really happy with my performance and my golf and am really looking forward to the rest of my career."
The final was all square after a closely fought 18 holes in the morning in which both players recorded level par rounds of 70, with Lombard playing the steadier golf. The South African hit 16 of 18 greens in the morning round and had six birdie putts he failed to convert. Neil only managed to find eight greens in regulation but his short game kept him hard.