Raymond out to make history

Neil Raymond
Neil Raymond
Scott Gregory. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Gregory: None of the pros care I won British Amateur

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Neil Raymond aims to rewrite the record books this weekend.

The reigning Brabazon Trophy champion is bidding to become the first player to defend his title for more than 20 years.

And the Corhampton ace today started his defence over the Old Course at Walton Heath.

Raymond landed the Brabazon – the English Men’s Open Stroke Play Championship – at Burnham & Berrow in Somerset last year.

It was a victory that followed his full England debut in an international with Spain.

Since then he has played a central role in England successes, including the recent international against France at Rochester & Cobham Park in Kent.

Raymond is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Gary Evans.

Evans shared top spot with Frenchman Olivier Edmond at Burnham & Berrow back in 1990.

And he finished at the head of the field with Mark Pullan a year later at Hunstanton.

The challenge facing Raymond will be slightly tougher, though, with no ties for the title.

If he is locked in battle at the top of the leadboard come Sunday, he will face a sudden-death play-off for the crown.

Such a fate is a long way off for the south coast star, though.

Raymond started his defence today at 7.40am. He will have to fight off a clutch of England pals – as well as a host of other talented golfers from home and abroad – if he is to retain the trophy.

This year’s field contains 153 players. Among them are most of the England team that beat France last month – as well as many junior internationals and most of the top 10 in the current Titleist/FootJoy England Golf order of merit.

Order of merit leader Craig Hinton and Spanish amateur champion Jack Hiluta will be among the favourites.

The other home nations are well represented, as well as France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Australia.

Previous winners of the Brabazon include Sandy Lyle, Peter McEvoy and 2011 US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Admission is free. For more information, visit englandgolf.org/brabazontrophy