ST. ANDREWS, Scotland –- Pencil Neil Raymond’s name into the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team. Victory in the St. Andrews Links Trophy has likely guaranteed his trip to the National Golf Links for the biennial match this September.
The 27-year-old Englishman compiled rounds of 72-73-68-69 for a four-round total of 6-under 282. It was good enough for a two-shot victory over compatriots Max Orrin, Ryan Evans and Nathan Kimsey.
Raymond adds the prestigious St. Andrews Trophy to the two Brabazon Trophy titles he has won the last two years. He is the third Englishman to win the title in the last four years.
“To win any international amateur tournament is special, but to do it at St. Andrews is extra special,” Raymond said. “I’ve always wanted to win here. It’s unbelievable. It’s my last time playing this tournament as an amateur and it’s good to go out in style.”
The Englishman began the last two rounds six shots off the pace but had the best 36-hole aggregate score in the field, 7 under.
“I putted lovely today,” Raymond said. “I’ve been working really hard on that part of my game a lot recently and it paid off this week.”
Raymond is a member of the England Elite squad. Already this year he’s lost in the final of the Spanish Amateur, and reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Amateur. He was already considered by many to be a lock for this year’s Walker Cup team. He’s not getting ahead of himself.
“Of course it’s important to play well in a Walker Cup year and to win in a Walker Cup year, but there’s a lot of golf left to be played before the team is selected. I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m just going to continue to work hard and hope to make the team.”
Orrin would have been in a playoff with Raymond if not for a double-bogey six at the 17th. It was his second double bogey of the round after another at the second hole. However, he had seven birdies in the round along with two bogeys to give himself a chance.
Orrin was chasing his third win in less than a month. He won the South of England Links Championship and Lagonda Trophy last month. Last year he made history when he became the first Englishman to win the AJGA's Thunderbird Invitational. He has a good chance of joining Raymond on the flight to the Walker Cup in September.
Kimsey also has a chance of Walker Cup selection. He closed with a two rounds of 70 to put pressure on Raymond.
Evans was the surprise package of the week. He qualifies as a true amateur since he holds down a full-time job. He plays part-time golf and works full time for Avon Cosmetics.
Raymond is a full-time amateur with sights set on turning professional after the Walker Cup. Take it as read: He’s a lock for the match on Long Island in September.