Raymond targets Turkish delight

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

Gregory: None of the pros care I won British Amateur

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Neil Raymond is eyeing the Turkish Open Amateur Championship as a stepping stone towards world glory later in the year.

Corhampton’s England amateur international has been selected to represent his country once again for next week’s 72-hole strokeplay event – played over the same two courses that will stage the Eisenhower Trophy in October.

The event would normally be used to blood youngsters with potential.

But the England selectors have gone with Raymond, Jack Hiluta, Toby Tree and Ben Taylor, with one eye on giving them experience of the two courses on the Turkish Riviera – Antalya in Serik and the Cornelia course in Belek.

Raymond said: ‘The event is normally used to give some of the younger players a bit of experience.

‘But we’ve got the World Team Championships later in the year on the same two golf courses, so they have seen it as an opportunity for us potentials to go out there and get used to it.

‘Playing in that is one of my main goals for the season.

‘I want to get into that side and I want to get into the GB & Ireland side to play against Europe.

‘To go there and perform well would be really nice because there are some big events coming up.’

Raymond – the Brabazon Trophy champion – has had a patchy start to the campaign by his own very high standards but found the old magic as he helped his side to victory at the recent England versus France clash.

He said: ‘I went up to the Lytham Trophy but I didn’t swing the club very well and I played terribly.

‘From tee to green I was so poor but I’ve worked on my short game a lot and that was nice to see.

‘Two years ago, I would have shot 85 in the first round with the way I played, but this time I shot 73.

‘I made the cut and finished 34th, which is not where I want to be, but there was no great shame in that.

‘If I can finish there and not play very well, there are a lot of positives in that.

I wasn’t happy with my game but then at the England versus France game, I worked on something and it clicked and I played very nicely.

‘I played 61 holes that week and I was 18 under par, so that shows what I can do.’

While Raymond is among the leading amateurs in the country, he admits he is still searching for more consistency ahead of the forthcoming St Andrews Links Trophy to be played on the New Course and the Old Course in early June.

He said: ‘It’s not about when I have my best days, it’s about what I can do when I’m not at my best. But it’s moving in the right direction.

‘Even the poor stuff has been better and the thing I am trying to work on is getting my bad shots better.

‘My good shots will always be good but I’m looking for that bit more consistency.

‘After Turkey I’m straight up to St Andrews for the St Andrews Links and I’m really looking forward to that one.’