Early exits at Amateur Championships

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NEIL Raymond’s hopes of Walker Cup selection suffered a major blow at the English Amateur Championships yesterday.

The Corhampton GC ace was hoping for a late surge to propel him into contention for the GB & Ireland team for their encounter with the USA in September.

However, the 25-year-old now faces the prospect of an anxious wait after his first-round exit from the matchplay stages of the amateur championships at Woburn.

Hampshire team-mate and fellow Walker Cup hope Darren Wright suffered the same fate – failing to make the last 32 of the prestigious event.

But with Rowlands Castle member Wright well placed to make the Royal Aberdeen event, Raymond will need to keep his fingers crossed in the weeks ahead.

After finishing as the leading amateur at last weekend’s Challenge Tour event at Stoke-by-Nayland – plus his recent victory in Brabazon Trophy – expectations were high for Raymond going into the Bedfordshire event.

It was Wright, however, who led the local challenge, finishing the two rounds of qualifying in 14th place overall with a one-under-par total of 143.

Raymond finished in 53rd spot after two rounds of 75 and 73, handing him a first-round matchplay tie against Hessle’s Paul Lockwood who joined Wright at one-under.

But he was unable to progress to the second round, losing 5&4 to his opponent.

And Wright was unable to negotiate his way beyond the first-round either after he came unstuck against Ashley Cheeters 3&1.