Scotland’s Bradley Neil is through to the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship after recording the biggest win of the week so far at Royal Portrush. The 18-year-old Blairgowrie player defeated Iceland’s Haraldur Magnus 7&6 to take his place in the last four.
Neil didn’t give Magnus much of a chance to become the first player from Iceland to win the Amateur Championship. Neil birdied four of the first five holes to take a commanding three-hole lead.
"I had a quick start, and that was pretty vital against somebody I don’t really know," Neil said. "You want to stamp your authority on the match straight away and give yourself an early lead."
The killer blow came at the par-4, 7th hole.
"I holed a 27-yard putt on the seventh hole for a par," Neil said. "I was in trouble, plugged in the grass near a bunker and managed to get it out but I was still 10-yards off the green. It was nice to see that one go in because that happened to me a lot yesterday."
It proved to be the turning point. Magnus went four down from looking like he was going to cut Neil’s lead to two holes.
"After that it was just a case of keeping it solid, don’t get into any danger. He was struggling and my caddie said at the eighth that he felt slightly sorry for him. I said: ‘I can’t feel sorry for him.’ If you do that suddenly you’ve lost two holes and he’s got his tail up. You’ve just to keep your foot down, keep the pressure on him."
Neil now plays fellow Scot Connor Syme in the semi-final.
Southport & Ainsdale’s Sean Towndrow holed the best two putts of his life at the 18th and 19th holes to beat leading qualifier Daniel Brown. One down playing the 18th, Towndrow holed a 25-foot birdie putt to take the match up the 19th. He bunkered his tee shot but managed to get his approach shot to 20 feet and holed the birdie putt.
"That was insane," the 23-year-old said. "It’s ridiculous because I didn’t expect it this morning. I didn’t sleep last night because I was so nervous. But I had no expectations and so eventually I just sort of relaxed and enjoyed it for what it is."
Towndrow now faces South Africa’s Zander Lombard, after Lombard defeated Towndrow’s Southport & Ainsdale fellow club member Paul Howard. The South African remains on course to become only the second South African winner since Bobby Cole’s 1966 victory at Carnoustie.
Eighteen-year-old Syme squeezed through a tight match against fellow Scot Jamie Savage. Syme took the match on the 19th hole with a regulation par after Savage had found rough off the tee and could only hack out.
"I always knew it was going to be a really tight match because Jamie’s a really good player," Syme said.
Syme’s previous biggest achievement was making last year’s Jacques Leglise Trophy team.