TADWORTH, Surrey, England (July 1, 2012) -- Neil Raymond achieved his goal when he successfully defended the Brabazon Trophy in the wind and rain at Walton Heath. A closing round of 72 left him two strokes clear of playing partner Kevin Phelan from Ireland, also with 72, and three ahead of the fast-finishing Jamie Rutherford.
The 26 year old from Hampshire made history by becoming the first player in over 20 years to win two Brabazons in-a-row and the first for over 50 years to hold the trophy on his own in successive years (image © Tom Ward).
“I’m delighted,” he said modestly, “I didn’t play as well today as in previous rounds but I got the job done. I had a few touchy moments but I made a couple of good saves when I needed.”
The save that counted most came on the 190-yard seventh when he fired a six iron over the green into the trees.
“I had nowhere to drop so I had to move 80 yards away on to a path with a blind shot over the trees and the ball almost went in,” he added. “It lipped out so I only dropped one shot.”
He was out in 37 but birdied the 12th and 13th to get back into red figures and also birdied the long 16th. He made a great sand save at the 206-yard 17th and could even afford to drop a shot at the last and still win comfortably.
Raymond also revealed that he received a pre-round boost from Andrew Sullivan, the man he beat by a stroke at Burnham & Berrow last year.
“Andy sent me a twitter so I called him last night and he said I could win again. He said he threw everything at me last year and it didn’t work, that I knew how to win and that I had done it before.
“It was an unbelievable chat and it was nice to hear this from a European Tour player.”
Phelan, who started the day two behind Raymond, needed a fast start but it eluded him as he double-bogeyed the par-four fourth to match Raymond’s front nine 37, while a couple of back nine birdies still couldn’t make up the difference.
“I had a lot of chances but I couldn’t get any momentum going,” he said. “Neil played well and deserved his victory.”
It was another day when the weather was extremely mixed with sunshine, a testing wind that blew all week, and occasional showers, sometimes heavy. And with temperature dipping it was more like April than July.
But that didn’t deter Rutherford. The 20 year old from Hertfordshire signed for 68, the best round of the day and equal to the best of the week, for 290 and third place.
“I played as well as the previous days but today I holed a few more putts at the right time,” he admitted. “I got it going on the back nine but I made a bad swing on 15 and put my ball on the 16th fairway.
“But I fired a four-iron from there to eight feet and holed for birdie, then I eagled 16. It would have been better but I missed a three-foot birdie at 14.”
Jack Bartlett from Sussex was another to make up ground, a closing 70 hoisting him into fourth place on 291, while Kent’s Michael Saunders, joint ninth on 296, also signed for 70 which would have been a 68 but for a double-bogey six at the last.
The George Henriques Salver for the best performance by a player aged under 20 from Britain and Ireland went to Rutherford while Josh White from Surrey won the Scrutton Jug on 580 for the best aggregate from the Brabazon and Berkshire Trophies.