Neil Raymond has given his Walker Cup hopes an early shot in the arm after reaching the final of the Spanish Amateur Championship.
The Corhampton Golf Club man knocked out Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith and Kent’s Max Orrin on his way to the 36-hole final but went down to Irishman Reeve Whitson 4&3 in the showpiece at La Manga.
England’s number one amateur won the Brabazon Trophy – the English Amateur Strokeplay Championship – at Burnham & Berrow in 2011, and became the first player to successfully defend the trophy in more than 20 years at Walton Heath last year.
And he admits his recent improvements in matchplay golf stands him in good stead as he chases his main goal of 2013 – selection for September’s Walker Cup tussle with USA at National Golf Links of America in New York.
Raymond said: ‘For me, it’s all about getting prepared for the Walker Cup this year. That is my only goal this year.
‘I’m just trying to play well to get into that team and get some matchplay golf under my belt.
‘I’ve never been as good in matchplay but the past few tournaments I’ve done well, which bodes well for the Walker Cup.
‘If the team was picked now, I would hope I’d have a good chance of getting in. But it’s picked in August so I’ll keep working hard all season.’
Raymond admitted he was disappointed not to take victory at La Manga.
But he was pleased with his overall form during the event.
He said: ‘I enjoyed Spain and my game came together nicely.
‘If someone had said at the start of the week that I would have been runner-up, I would have taken that.
‘But if you get to the final, you want to win it. I played well from tee to green in the final but the putts just didn’t quite drop for me so it was a bit disappointing.’
However, the Titchfield golfer was delighted with his new TaylorMade R1 driver after one mammoth 400-yard drive on a 586-yard par five left him with just an eight iron approach.
He smiled: ‘I don’t normally hit it quite that far but it hit a path and then it ran on and on forever. The new driver is going well, though!’