Raymond seeks to 'double up' by becoming English champion
Having retained the Brabazon Trophy at Walton Heath last month, Neil Raymond (Corhampton, Hampshire, IoW & CI) will seek to complete ‘the double’ with the English Amateur Championship, supported by Abacus, at Silloth-on-Solway and Seascale Golf Clubs in Cumbria on 30th July – 4th August.
Few players manage to lift both titles in the same year, but Raymond will attempt to join Mark Foster, the last player to achieve it, who won the English Amateur at Hunstanton in 1995 after sharing the Brabazon with current England captain Colin Edwards at Hillside.
The first two days are confined to qualifying rounds with all 288 players completing one round over each course at the end of which the leading 64 progress to the match play knockout stage at Silloth.
Raymond begins his bid at Seascale on the opening day, as will many of his international colleagues. Raymond sets off at 3.10pm while Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park, Shropshire & Herefordshire) starts at 8am, Ben Loughrey (Wrag Barn, Wiltshire) and Jack Hiluta (Chelmsford, Essex) at 3pm and Ben Stow (Rushmore, Wiltshire) at 3.20pm.
Another England cap, Craig Hinton (The Oxfordshire, BB&O), current leader of the Titleist/FootJoy Order of Merit, starts at 8.20am and Garrick Porteous (Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland) alongside Raymond at 3.10pm.
Jamie Clare (Burnham & Berrow, Somerset), runner-up in the championship at Woburn last year, starts at Seascale at 9.40am, while others at the same course include Max Orrin (North Foreland, Kent), the current leader of the Titleist/FootJoy Boys Order of Merit, Greg Payne (Chobham, Surrey), Sunningdale Foursomes winner, and Darwin Salver champion Nathan Kimsey (Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire).
On day one at Silloth, fans will be cheering local hero John Longcake (Silloth-on-Solway, Cumbria), who retained the English Mid Amateur Championship over his home course in 2009 and is making a rare challenge for the English title.
Two more local hopes at Silloth, both from Workington, Cumbria, are Seb Crookall-Nixon, twice English under 16 champion, who is making a remarkable recovery from a road accident, and William Bowe. Crookall-Nixon starts at 1.50pm and Bowe is last out at 3.20pm.
Sam Claridge (Harpenden Common, Hertfordshire), a quarter finalist a year ago, is off at 12.40pm, while also starting at Silloth is England cap Ed Richardson (Hemsted Forest, Kent), Lincolnshire champion James Burnett (Sleaford, Lincolnshire) and boy cap Matthew Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire, Yorkshire).
A total of 317 players filed entries with the cut-off coming at 0.5 handicap.
The Championship starts at 7am on Monday 30th July and culminates with the 36-hole final on Saturday 4th August. Latest scores and news updates can be found on the England Golf website www.englandgolf.org.