Raymond backed to get pro game in shape

Neil Raymond missed the cut at two Challenge Tour events and crashed out of European Tour Qualifying School at stage one Picture: David Cannon
Neil Raymond missed the cut at two Challenge Tour events and crashed out of European Tour Qualifying School at stage one Picture: David Cannon
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Neil Raymond has been tipped to come back stronger after a difficult start to his professional career.

The 27-year-old from Titchfield achieved his ambition of playing in the Walker Cup in September to sign off a glittering amateur career that included two Brabazon Trophy victories.

But after being handed invites to Challenge Tour events as a new professional, Raymond missed the cut in both events and then crashed out of European Tour Qualifying School at stage one.

While he is taking time out in Spain to practice over the winter, next season he is set to receive further invites to Challenge Tour tournaments.

And long-standing coach Ian Roper – the professional at Corhampton Golf Club – believes Raymond can still make his mark in the paid ranks.

Roper said: ‘I’ve worked with Neil for seven or eight years now.

‘There’s no reason why he can’t make his mark next season.

‘Every golfer has setbacks and sometimes they can look back on them and see them as a good thing.

‘I know he was disappointed not to get through stage one of qualifying.

‘But the problem was he had came off the back of Walker Cup, then Challenge Tour events in Kazakhstan and the Dunhill Links at St Andrews, where he wasn’t very well.

‘It caught up with him when he then went on to Tour School and I think he was exhausted going into stage one.

‘When you get a little bit tired, you lose a bit of focus and mistakes creep in.’

While his first few events as a professional did not go according to plan, Raymond’s mental strength is a key asset in his game and Roper believes it will stand him in good stead.

‘I definitely think he has got the game and the mental strength to make an impression in the professional ranks,’ said Roper.

‘The good thing with Neil is that if he does hit a bad shot, he gets it out of his brain very quickly.

‘You see a lot of players beat themselves up over bad shots.

‘I think it’s because he’s played a lot of competitive amateur golf and it’s just in his nature.

‘He doesn’t get angry. He takes it in, has a chat to himself and gets on with it again.’

Raymond also has the option to play on some of the feeder tours around Europe next season, but Roper believes he can still grasp his chance on the Challenge Tour again.

‘He will get a few invites on Challenge Tour through his management company. He is hoping to get into maybe seven events,’ added Roper.

‘You only need to do well in one of those and you get to play the following week – it all goes from there.

‘But I’m sure he will play on some of the other tours.

‘It’s all part of adding to the experience that he has already gained as an amateur.’