Bradley Neil & Connie Jaffrey win Junior Champion of Champions in Scotland

Bradley Neil, Blairgowrie’s outstanding young prospect, and talented Connie Jaffrey of Troon Portland brought the curtain down on their seasons in style with victories at the Junior Champion of Champions over The Duke’s Course, St Andrews, on Sunday

Fifteen-year-old Neil, who finished an impressive second in the English Under-16 Boys’ Open Stroke Play in July, carded a sparkling four-under-par 67 to claim a one-shot victory – his first national triumph of the season.

Neil edged out Scotland Boys International team-mate Ewan Scott, a St Andrews local and Duke’s member, with Paul Reilly of Lochwinnoch beating Jamie Savage (Cawder) into third spot – thanks to a better back nine of 35 – after they both carded 70’s.

Meanwhile, Connie shot an impressive 72 – one-over-par – to pip playing partner Clara Young of North Berwick by a single stroke, with Jessica Meek (Carnoustie Ladies) and Eilidh Watson (Muckhart) next best after 74’s. Meek took third alone with a better inward half of 37.

An elite field of Scotland’s 2011 junior winners gathered at the award-winning Duke’s for the end-of-season contest – in essence a celebration of the year’s golf. National winners and selected County and Area champions – 42 boys and 16 girls – teed-up at the world-renowned Fife venue in pursuit of the prestigious title, contested for a fifth time, with the Duke’s staging it for a third occasion.

Despite calm conditions and the forecast rain failing to arrive, the par-71 lay-out played long and challenging, with only four players in the entire field breaking par.

Over 18 holes of straight medal play in the dual SGU/SLGA event, Neil was a class act throughout, hitting the first eight greens in regulation to sit three under following birdies at the first, sixth and eighth.

A bogey came at the ninth, but Bradley quickly returned to his stride with a chip in at 11 and a 20-foot putt for another birdie at the next. Six holes of steady golf followed to take the title.

Neil, who eclipsed his share of second place at the opening SGU Junior Tour event at Arbroath in March, said: “It’s my first national win of the season so it’s a great way to end. I drove the ball well, it was a really consistent round. I hit greens and gave myself opportunities to hole putts – that was probably the key. If you missed the greens you were getting punished quite badly with the bunkers.

“I had a stupid bogey at nine when I missed the green with a wedge. But I got into the back nine and kicked on from there. I chipped in for birdie at 11, which helped, and made birdie at the par-3 12th. I then kept it solid.”

Scott, the victor at Arbroath in the spring, cursed a closing bogey after he failed to get up and down, missing a 15-foot putt. It brought back bad memories of 2009 when he tripled-bogeyed the 18th to also finish second. “I didn’t know the situation, but I knew it was going to be close, so it’s a little disappointing to finish as I did,” he said.

In the girls event, Jaffrey and Young were nip and tuck throughout their dual, both an excellent one-under-par at the turn. But the turning point came at the 14th when Clara lost a ball after a poor tee shot to drop two shots.

The 15-year-old’s, both members of the SLGA training squads for 2011-12 and playing off two handicaps, rounded off fine seasons with their efforts.

Connie, a winner of two Junior Open’s this year, said: “It was a good game between myself and Clara, it was always going to be quite close. It was tough to score so I’m delighted to win.

“My handicap was five at the start of the year, I got down to one and then back up to two, so it’s been a good year.”

Clara can also look back on 2011 with fondness after representing Scotland in the Home Internationals and Girls European Team Championship, and playing for Great Britain & Ireland in the Junior Vagliano Trophy.

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