Raymond ready for Walker Cup battle

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 is determined to put an end to two years of hurt as he signs off his amateur career in style.

The Corhampton man will fulfil a lifetime ambition when he plays his part in Great Britain & Ireland’s defence of the Walker Cup, which starts this weekend at Southampton, New York.

After missing out on selection in 2011 at Aberdeen, it will be the perfect send-off for Raymond, who will embark on a career in the professional ranks in the coming weeks.

Raymond said: ‘I’m absolutely buzzing for it.

‘It’s something I’ve had as a dream and a goal for the last two years at least after missing out in 2011.

‘It’s a relief and, to be honest, a pleasing way to bow out of amateur golf.

‘Two years ago, I won the English Strokeplay and missed out on playing in Aberdeen.

‘But looking back, that was probably the best thing to happen to me because it gave me the motivation to push to know where I want to be.

‘I said to myself “if I can keep going, then who know’s what’s possible?”

‘I didn’t want to think necessarily of goals for playing team golf and I didn’t necessarily think about the Walker Cup.

‘All I thought about was the next event, the next week.

‘But it would be fantastic to win to finish my amateur career.

‘Winning is obviously something I can’t control on my own.

‘We’re going to go out, give it our all, wear the GB & Ireland colours with pride and just see if we can come out on top after two days of good golf. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’

At 27 years old, Raymond will be the elder statesmen on the Great Britain & Ireland team but he believes his age will have no bearing.

He said: ‘There’s maybe a bit of responsibility there but at the end of the day, as soon as you get into that team environment you are just 10 golfers. Age doesn’t really come into it.

‘If any of the lads want to ask me anything, they know they can feel free to do so. Especially a few of the English ones being the youngest ones.

‘I’ve done it in the past. They’ve asked me a few things and I’ll give them an answer as much as anyone else.

‘But I feel I’m just another one of the golfers.’

And Raymond also believes leaving it relatively late to turn professional can only help him in the long run.

He said: ‘Everyone is different but I feel, honestly, that some people have turned pro too early.

‘You look at Ian Poulter – a four handicapper, working in Woburn pro shop, all of a sudden turns pro and now he’s played Ryder Cups, he’s competed in majors and won numerous titles across the world.

‘Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, played Walker Cup, represented Ireland, played Einsenhower Trophy, did this, did that, and turned pro at 18 or 19 and that’s the flip side.

‘There’s no right or wrong but I like seeing players like Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson do what they do at 40.

‘So it just shows, that if your golf is good, you can compete no matter what age you are.

‘So to me, age doesn’t bother me.’