Raymond signs off with Aussie win

Neil Raymond
Neil Raymond
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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Neil Raymond signed off his Australian adventure with victory after lifting the abbreviated New South Wales Medal in a gutsy battle.

The Titchfield-based Hampshire and England golfer has been playing on the Australian amateur circuit since the turn of the year to gear himself up for the new domestic season after staying in the unpaid ranks for another season.

While former Hampshire and England colleague Darren Wright stepped up last year, Raymond instead chose to gain more experience.

But after a series of steady displays in his previous outings, the Brabazon Trophy champion ensured his long trip home will be all the sweeter after picking up a win at Mona Vale Golf Club following a sudden-death play-off success over Aussie star Brett Dewitt.

With the event reduced to 36 holes after heavy rain ruled out the final two rounds, Raymond and Drewitt were tied on 141, so the title was decided on the par-three sixth hole as the 25-year-old triumphed.

Raymond looked to be in trouble when he pulled his tee shot left and Drewitt found the putting surface.

But the Corhampton Golf Club man chipped to 15 feet and then holed his putt for a fine up and down, while Drewitt left his first putt six feet away from the hole.

When he then missed his second putt for a par to extend the contest, it ensured that Raymond would be leaving Australian soil with another title under his belt.

The tournament was played out in wind and rain from the start – something which will surely have played into Raymond’s hands – with 260 players over two courses struggling to come to terms with the conditions.

But Raymond demonstrated his skills with an opening 67 at Long Reef to lead by one from home member Patrick Wilson.

The England man added a 74 in round two and while Wilson went backwards after shooting 81, Drewitt drew alongside Raymond with 68 to go with his opening 73.

When heavy rain forced the final two rounds to be abandoned, it left the pair to fight it out for the title.

The result meant that an Englishman’s name was on the title for a second consecutive year after Andy Sullivan’s 12 months ago.

And it also ensured Raymond qualified among the leading 32 as the number one seed for the subsequent New South Wales Amateur Championship at Elanora Golf Club.

But his hopes of following up his medal success with a another crown were dashed in the opening round as he went down to the 2011 Australian Amateur champion, while Drewitt went on to lift the prize.