Hampshire president salutes dynamic duo

Harry Ellis in action during in his second round at The Open

Ellis feels at home despite missing Open cut

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Tony Cullen has paid tribute to Hampshire golfers Neil Raymond and Harry Ellis.

The Hampshire Golf Union (HGU) president lauded the achievements of the talented duo as he reflected on a ‘magnificent’ year for the county.

Speaking at the 119th annual general meeting, Cullen revealed his delight at years of hard work at grass roots level paying off.

And just in the nick of time, too, as he readies himself to step down after three years in the top job.

The president said: ‘On the competitive front, Team Hampshire has had a great year.

‘Over many years it has been our desire to develop training regimes to produce winners on the local, national and international scene.

‘And 2012 has seen much of this training come to fruition.’

Cullen picked out Raymond – the country’s leading amateur – for special praise after an unprecedented year of success.

The Corhampton 26-year-old defended the prestigious Brabazon Trophy in desperate weather conditions at Walton Heath in June.

In doing so, Raymond became the first player in more than 20 years to win the competition in two successive campaigns.

He was also the first for more than 50 years to hold the English amateur open strokeplay championship crown outright in successive summers.

Cullen is now hoping the impressive Raymond will go on to fly the flag for Hampshire in the 2013 Walker Cup.

Cullen said: ‘Neil Raymond won his second consecutive national strokeplay championship and we are really proud and very, very pleased for him.

‘He also went on to become the number one amateur in England and will be representing our country in Australia this winter.

‘Hopefully Neil will play in the Walker Cup next year as well.’

Cullen was equally complimentary to record-breaker Ellis.

The 17-year-old Meon Valley Club starlet became the youngest ever English amateur champion when he won the matchplay battle at Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club in Cumbria – aged 16 years 11 months and 28 days.

Ellis, who beat the previous record set by an 18-year-old Nick Faldo in 1975, also joined stars such as Mark James, Paul Casey and Sir Michael Bonallack on the roll of honour.

Hampshire’s president, who made the long trip north in support of Ellis, praised the manner of the victory.

He said: ‘When Harry Ellis, at age 16, was winning the English Amateur Championship I drove for 11 hours to a place in the country I had only ever glanced at on the map before.

‘And I watched a superb display of controlled 36-hole matchplay golf.

‘He won the tournament with class and style.’

Cullen, who will now step down as HGU president after three years of service, also paid tribute to long-serving secretary Barry Morgan who has, this month, retired after seven years in the post.

‘I must thank Barry Morgan for his support and also wish David Wheeler every success as he takes over from Barry as our secretary,’ said Cullen.

‘It has been a tremendous honour to be the Hampshire Golf Union president.

‘I have given it my all and thoroughly enjoyed my time.’