O'Neil Clinches Boys Order of Merit Title
The final domestic national amateur golfing honour of the season has gone to Pollok’s Conor O’Neil, who has been crowned the 2010 SGU Boys’ Order of Merit title winner.
A string of excellent performances during the summer saw O’Neil emerge at the top of the rankings, in a tight battle which saw Scotland’s leading five junior golfers separated by just seventy-three ranking points. O’Neil finished the season with 711.25 points, with Dumfries & Country’s Liam Johnston just behind in second place on 697.5 points.
O’Neil, who was a pupil at St Ninian’s High School on the south side of Glasgow before beginning a golf scholarship at Michigan State University in August, came agonisingly close to claiming his first national title at this year’s Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship at Craigielaw, where Finland’s Linus Vaisanen birdied the 72nd hole to beat him by a shot.
His silver medal finish sparked a great run of form for the 18-year-old, who went on to reach the quarter-finals of the British Boys Championship at Kilmarnock Barassie, being pipped by German Max Rotluff at the 21st hole, before helping Scotland to second place in the Boys Home Internationals, where he boasted an unbeaten record of five and a half points from a possible six.
O’Neil, who has been called up to the Scotland Men’s Elite Squad, praised his coach Adam Hunter for the progress made during the last year:
“I worked very hard with Adam (Hunter) and George Boswell when Adam was ill and developed a more solid all round game. Adam is a fantastic coach and has been very supportive with me while giving me much more belief in my ability.”
“Having got the Highers I needed for my scholarship during my fifth year at school I didn’t have the added pressure of needing exam results or trying to impress potential universities, so I could really concentrate on my golf this season.” he added.
“The highlight of the year was beating England in the Boys’ Home Internationals. We had a great team spirit and it was good to give Spencer (Henderson) a good send-off in his last duty for Scotland. I’m really looking forward to being part of the main squad and learning from the more experienced players.”
“My scholarship in Michigan has started really well and I’m learning quickly, trying to balance golf, the fitness aspect and my school work but it builds great discipline. It’s great to experience a different climate, different types of golf course week in week out and new opponents, which can only help me with my long term goal of turning professional.”
Runner-up Johnston also enjoyed a fine season and was the leading Under 18s performer at the Allied Surveyors Scottish Amateur Championship at Gullane, where he reached the last eight. Johnston’s South team-mate Scott Gibson (Southerness) finished third in the Boys’ Order of Merit, with long time leader Simon Fairburn (Torwoodlee) in fourth place and Scottish Boys Champion Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) fifth.