Raymond keen to lead from front in Cup battle

Neil Raymond proudly shows off his St Andrews Links Trophy prize Picture: Sandy Young
Neil Raymond proudly shows off his St Andrews Links Trophy prize Picture: Sandy Young
Scott Gregory

Gregory aiming for bright start in Portugal

0
Have your say

Neil Raymond is prepared to lead from the front in his bid to become a Walker Cup winner.

The Corhampton Golf Club ace was this week named in the Great Britain & Ireland squad that will travel to the National Golf Links of America, Southampton, New York, for the biennial head-to-head with the States’ finest amateurs.

The prestigious clash promises to be the highlight of an unforgettable career to date for Raymond, who has forged an elite reputation in the amateur rankings.

Success at home and abroad – including two Brabazon Trophy wins and this year’s St Andrews Links Championship victory – has rightfully earned him a place in the world’s consciousness.

And with the 27-year-old earlier this month finishing as the top strokeplay qualifier at the US Amateur Championship – before bowing out at the quarter-final stage in match play – it was only fitting for Raymond to be named in captain Nigel Edward’s side for the trans-Atlantic trip.

The two-day battle (September 7-8) will be the Titchfield Common man’s last venture as an amateur, with him turning pro immediately afterwards.

However, he has no intention of going quietly, with Raymond determined to provide GB & Ireland with the perfect springboard for success.

‘I really want the first tee shot,’ said Raymond.

‘I went out first in the foursomes at Portmarnock in the St Andrews Trophy last year, which was GB & Ireland v Europe, and I loved it.

‘I loved having the pressure and the belief from the staff to go out as number one.

‘I’m really looking forward to that task of getting on the tee and wearing the red lion with absolute pride.

‘I don’t think we’ll know orders of play until the night before.

‘I can’t see it being any earlier because Nigel is going to be looking at us to see where our games are at, what we’re up to. I’m sure he’s got an idea and he’ll probably talk to us where we might play.

‘But if he asks me I’ll tell him I want to go out top.

‘In the European Championships this year, me and Garrick Porteous went out first in the foursomes.

‘We delivered three out of three points and went out one every day, so there’s a pretty strong pairing if Nigel wants to use it.

‘I’m quietly confident if he asks me to go out number one. Bring it on.’

With American golf fans notorious for making themselves heard on the course, Raymond can expect an electric atmosphere if he gets his wish of teeing off first for the tourists.

That’s a scenario, however, that fails to daunt the oldest member of the GB & Ireland side.

In fact, Raymond has welcomed making his Walker Cup debut on foreign soil and is looking forward to the prospect of silencing the home support.

‘I’ve always said, if I was going to play Walker Cup, I’d like to play in the US,’ he revealed.

‘I’ve always been led to believe that the way they run tournaments is just a little bit different to what they do over here.

‘You know what the Americans are like, they go over the top with things and they are going to make it something special.

‘No doubt, I’d loved to have played over here with a home crowd but I’m also looking forward to trying to quieten the American crowd by winning.

‘That’s the only thing that’s going to keep them quiet.

‘There’s been a few people recently on tour who haven’t been happy with some American crowds but, to me, if they want to shout, let them shout.

‘If you beat their man, they’re not gong to shout much more. It’s that simple.

‘If you can win, get up on them, they’re not going to holler out.’