Raymond sets sights on USA

Corhampton GC golfer Neil Raymond
Corhampton GC golfer Neil Raymond
Meon Valley Golf Club member Harry Ellis

Ellis' pride as he finishes Masters in style

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Neil Raymond led England to a prestigious team event title and declared: Now I’m ready to try my luck in America.

The Titchfield amateur was the top performer for the nation at the European Amateur Team Championships held in Denmark last week.

He teamed up with newly-crowned British Amateur champion Garrick Porteous in the foursomes for a vital win in the final against Scotland.

And although he didn’t participate in the singles, the Corhampton star played his part in the 4.5-2.5 win over the Scots.

His return of four points out of four (matchplay) and being the leading qualifier for his team in the strokeplay also further increases his chances of Walker Cup selection later this year.

And Raymond is getting some extra experience across the pond next month after earning a place in the US Amateur Championship to be held at former Ryder Cup venue Brookline in Boston.

Raymond said: ‘If you are not in the top 50 in the world, you have to pre-qualify so I left it really late to try to get into the top 50.

‘Then after I had a good British Amateur, it meant I could get in.

‘It’s going to be a great experience and I would love to play over there as a pro in the future. There are a few of us going over so it should be good fun.’

The 27-year-old will find out next month if he has earned a spot in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup squad.

But his consistent form and results in both team events and individual tournaments makes him a near certainty for selection, while he would surely seal his place with a good performance at the English Amateur Championship later this month.

Assessing his chances of selection, he said: ‘Being part of the team winning the European Team Championships can’t hinder me.

‘Garrick is already in the team because he won the British Amateur and I’m sure Nigel Edwards (Walker Cup captain) will have seen how well we play together as a pair.

‘It certainly give him that option.’

It’s been an impressive year for Raymond already and his latest team title was in what is likely to be his final appearance for England in his amateur career.

‘It was fantastic (in Denmark). It was everything we wanted it to be,’ he said.

‘The foursomes were massive for us.

‘Myself and Garrick have played a lot together and we gelled really well.

‘Then I was gutted not to be playing in the final singles but I pulled myself out on the second day and they couldn’t change the team after doing so well.

‘I don’t regret it. I was asked to do a job for the team and I think I did that.

‘To begin with, the main objective was to qualify for the matchplay stuff and it was looking iffy when we were lying in eighth place after day one.

‘But we all stepped up.

‘Then when we got to the final, we owed the Scots because they did us at the home internationals last year.

‘They gave us a trouncing.

‘We were up against very good players so it was never easy.

‘It was my last England event. I was leading qualifier and I got four points out of four.

‘But the most important thing was that the team won.’

With Raymond still intent on turning professional immediately after the Walker Cup in September, he believes there is more talent coming through the system behind him.

He said: ‘With us performing as we have done, it gives the younger boys coming through a lot more opportunities in the future. There are lots of good players coming through.’