Raymond’s up for more Aussie rule

Corhampton GC's Neil Raymond has enjoyed a successful 2011 Picture: Andrew Griffin
Corhampton GC's Neil Raymond has enjoyed a successful 2011 Picture: Andrew Griffin
Scott Gregory. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Gregory: None of the pros care I won British Amateur

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Neil Raymond will attempt to build on his success of 2011 when he heads off for a spot of Aussie-bashing next month.

The Hampshire amateur will join forces with fellow England squad members Ashley Chesters (Shropshire) and Ben Loughrey (Wiltshire) to take part in some of the top Australian amateur events on the calendar and keep themselves ticking over during the domestic off-season.

Raymond gained a big confidence boost during winter success in last year’s trip Down Under as he played a key part in the England team’s Ashes victory over their Australian counterparts.

And having made his international debut in 2011, the Corhampton man went on to lift the coveted Brabazon Trophy in emotional circumstances at Burnham & Berrow in June, before earning more international recognition in the Home Internationals.

While he missed out on Walker Cup selection, Raymond also grabbed the runner-up spot in the Selborne Salver and picked up a creditable seventh place in the Welsh Open Strokeplay in a breakthrough amateur season.

Fellow Hampshire team-mate Darren Wright turned professional recently and made it to the final round of Qualifying School.

But Raymond remains confident he made the right decision to remain as an amateur as he gears up for another year in the unpaid ranks, with plenty of goals to aim for.

He said: ‘I’m going to stay as an amateur for another year.

‘I’ve still got some goals that I want to achieve. I will try to play a few more events and get my CV looking a bit better for when I do decide to turn professional.

‘My main goals would be to play in the world amateur in Turkey and to hopefully play for Great Britain & Ireland against Europe next year in the St Andrews Trophy.

‘I’m in no rush to turn pro. I just want to get my game to its peak and get some more experience under my belt for when I’m ready.’

Raymond, who is a nominee in the sportsman of the year category for The News’ 2011 Sports Awards, and his English team-mates will spend a month in the southern hemisphere sunshine and will enter five events during their stint.

The trio will kick off with the Masters of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne between January 10-13 – an event that attracts the cream of the world’s top amateurs – followed by the Australian Amateur Championship at the Woodland and Huntingdale golf clubs between January 17-22.

They will then move on to the Lake Macquarie International at Belmont on January 26-29, before the New South Wales Medal at Long Reef and Mona Vale Golf Clubs on February 1-3.

If they qualify from that, the trio will contest the New South Wales Amateur Championship at Elanora Country Club on February 6-8.