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'Houdini' Raymond battles back to keep double alive at English Amateur
2nd August 2012

The double of the Brabazon Trophy and English Amateur, supported by Abacus, is still alive for Neil Raymond. But he had to dig deep in his two contests today to make tomorrow's quarter finals in a dramatic day at Silloth-on-Solway.  

Neil Raymond (Tom Ward)

Having edged past Adam Hedges on the 18 th green in the morning, Raymond (image © Tom Ward) found himself four-down to Marcus Mohr at the turn. It seemed all over for the Hampshire golfer, but he staged a remarkable recovery to stand on the 18 th tee just one-down.

But that was only half of the drama. Both made the final green in regulation but Raymond faced a putt of around 40 feet, while Mohr was about six feet away.

Incredibly Raymond rolled his in and Mohr missed to take the tussle into extra holes. They halved the 19 th then at the next both missed the green, but while Mohr chipped long, Raymond hit his recovery to four feet and while Mohr failed with his putt, Raymond holed his for victory.

"I'm exhausted," said Raymond. "I was definitely on the back foot more than I wanted today. I gave Marcus too many holes on the front nine but I'm still in the tournament. I looked at that putt on 18 from every angle as I hadn't holed anything all week. But thankfully it dropped in the left side and then I was surprised that Marcus missed his.

"On the 19 th I hit a poor drive, had a horrendous lie but gripped as hard as I could on a nine iron and found the green. Then I lipped out for birdie as I had on the 11 th and 16 th .

"Then on the 20 th when we both missed the green I had a good lie, pitched to four feet and holed out after he missed from around 20 feet."

In the all-Surrey clash, Ben Taylor came out on top against his county foursomes partner Josh White 3 and 2, gaining revenge for a defeat in a county championship two years ago.

"In the only time we've played each other, Josh beat me in the quarter finals at Croham Hurst two years ago and went on to win the title. So we are level now," said Taylor.  "We are foursomes partners in county matches and know each other's game well. But I made a terrible start this afternoon, losing balls on the first two holes."

That left Taylor with a hill to climb but he played solidly after that, cutting the deficit with a birdie at the fourth. But it wasn't until the 11 th that he managed to draw level with another birdie, then birdies at the 13 th , 14th and 15 th sealed his victory.

With a considerable crowd watching his every move, Seb Crookall-Nixon hardly put a foot wrong as he overcame Adam Chapman 5 and 3 in an all-Cumbrian match.

"I know Adam quite well," said Crookall-Nixon. "I've played county golf with him and he's done well to get this far.  But I played solid, didn't drop a shot, had 13 pars and two birdies. I won the third with a par then Adam lost a ball on the fifth so I was gifted those two holes."

The England boy cap won the ninth and 12 th with pars to go 4-up and while they both birdied the 14 th , Crookall-Nixon's second birdie came at 15 with a 20-foot putt to settle the issue.

Jordan Smith has been enjoying a successful season and he reached the quarter finals with a 2 and 1 win over international Garrick Porteous.

"That wasn't the best I've played," said Smith. "We both struggled for the first five holes but we settled down and we swapped holes on the front nine."

Smith drove the green at the tenth for birdie to go ahead for the second time and he increased it at the 12 th with a par. But Porteous hit back again with birdies at 13 and 14 to square the match only for Smith to win 15 with a par and 16 with a birdie to go two ahead again. They halved the 17 th in birdies which saw Smith over the line.

Harry Ellis secured his quarter final place with a 6 and 5 win over Tom Brown, who admitted he had 'run out of gas'.

"I got spanked out there and had nothing left in the tank," he said. "I've never played five rounds in four days before."

Ellis, who bogeyed the first to slip behind, soon hit back and took the lead on the fifth with a par. "After that I hit every green and was always putting for birdie," he said.

He increased it with a two-foot birdie at six while a par at eight put him 3-up. That was when Brown began to wilt and Ellis won three of the next five holes for a comprehensive victory.

"I'm keeping my good form from last week's Carris Trophy," he added. "I'm playing Seb Crookall-Nixon tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it and I know all about him."

Lincolnshire's Shaun Marshall birdied four of the closing seven holes to turn a two-hole deficit into a two-hole victory over surprise package James Ashman, the lad who put out international Ben Stow in the first round.

"I'm a bit shocked," said Marshall. "I didn't get through the qualifying at Woburn last year but I came back well this morning and this afternoon.

"Now I've got to check back into my hotel again. I did the same last night and I've got a puncture in my van. I picked up a nail going back last night."

The first tee time is at 08.15 tomorrow and entry to the event for specators is free. More information and scores for the men's English Amateur can be found on the Championships section of the England Golf website.


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