Raymond keen to ease pain in Spain

England international Neil Raymond Picture: Tom Ward
England international Neil Raymond Picture: Tom Ward
Scott Gregory. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Neil Raymond is refusing to let his Hampshire Salver frustrations dent his confidence as he prepares for his latest England call-up.

The Corhampton GC member flew out to Spain today as part of a strong nine-man team who will go head to head with their hosts at El Prat over the weekend.

National team regular Raymond made his official international debut in the same fixture in 2011.

But by his own admission, the 2012 England Golf Men’s Order of Merit winner didn’t sign off for the prestigious fixture on the winning note he had hoped for.

A joint 15th-place finish was his reward for 72 holes of Hampshire Salver action at the weekend.

The double Brabazon Trophy winner finished 12 shots off the pace set by England team-mate Callum Shinkwin.

However, Raymond, who finished runner-up in the Spanish Amateur Championships in La Manga earlier this year, saw enough in his game to suggest he’s not far off his best.

And he’s hopeful representing his country again will help him rediscover his finest form.

‘I’m really looking forward to it,’ said Raymond.

‘I love playing abroad at the best of times.

‘But to do it while playing for your country makes it that extra bit special.

‘I feel, from tee to green, my game is probably as good as it has been in a long time.

‘It’s just getting the putter to work as I would like, but hopefully I can put it right and put in some good performances in Spain.

‘Last weekend at the Hampshire Salver was a frustrating one, to be honest.

‘As I said, my game has been as close as it’s been in terms of tee to green.

‘It’s good to hit good form in that respect.

‘But just getting the ball in the hole was proving frustrating.’

Raymond is no stranger to competing on foreign soil.

In the last year alone, he has represented England in the Eisenhower Trophy in Turkey, won the New South Wales Medal while spending the winter playing in Australia and came runner-up in the Spanish Amateur.

They have provided the Titchfield ace with valuable experience in the build-up to this year’s Walker Cup – the amateur equivalent of the Ryder Cup.

And he’s determined to sign off his amateur days with a call-up to the Britain & Ireland team for the showpiece event at The National Golf Links of America course in New York.

‘It’s an important season, with it being a Walker Cup year,’ said Raymond.

‘It’s always been my dream to play Walker Cup as an amateur and it’s something I’ve been aiming towards for a good few years.

‘I know a lot of the players who played two years ago and heard so much about what a great experience it is.

‘That has made me want it even more now, and I’ll keep working hard and put in the effort on the course in order to achieve that goal.’

Raymond added confidence was high in the England camp ahead of their latest battle.

He said: ‘The team on paper is really good.

‘It’s probably the best side England has produced in years – even with several players not available for selection.

‘Playing for your country is a great experience.

‘Hopefully the team can go out there, play some good golf and get a positive result.’