England’s Harry Ellis has just taken a winning step towards next week’s outing on the world stage when he will tee up in The Masters.
He won his place at Augusta National with his dramatic victory in last summer’s Amateur Championship and he’s just played the traditional warm-up against the US Amateur Champion in the Georgia Cup.
Ellis, who has represented England at every level, eased his way to a 6/5 win over Doc Redman at the Golf Club of Georgia. “I was really happy with the way I performed and it has definitely given me some good momentum for the next couple of weeks,” he said afterwards.
Now he’s putting the finishing touches to his preparations for The Masters, which he describes as: “Absolutely a dream come true. It is one of the pinnacles of our sport and every golfer in the world wants to one day experience a round at the famous Augusta National, let alone be a part of the field for the Masters.
“I am extremely excited and will embrace and enjoy every part of such a fantastic opportunity.”
Ellis’s own special Masters’ memories include Tiger Woods’ amazing chip-in on the 16th in 2005 – and last year’s shoot-out when Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose to the Green Jacket.
Rose, of course, is a Hampshire legend. Ellis also hails from the county, from Meon Valley, and he is following in the footsteps of yet another Hampshire golfer, 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory. “I remember him telling me that I would love the course set up because it suits my game. From my visits so far, I would agree with him,” said Ellis.
But he’s not putting any pressure on himself. “I actually have low expectations, if not any expectations for the week, if I am honest. When my game is in a healthy spot, I know what I can do and I have a lot of belief in my ability. If it all comes together for the week and I make the weekend great. If not, I can walk away with my head held high and say what an incredible experience.”
Ellis’s Amateur Championship triumph also won him an outing in last year’s Open and that experience is helping him now. “I found from the Open that energy levels and time management are the biggest areas to monitor and I feel that I am in a good spot for my preparation for this year’s Masters.
“At the end of the day, I am still young and still progressing and learning. That is why I am fortunate to even have the opportunity to play in events of this magnitude.”
The 22-year-old first picked up a plastic club when he was 18 months old. Before too long he was making golfing headlines when he became the youngest-ever winner of the English Amateur at 16.
There’s been tough times, too. Ellis’s mother passed away in 2013 and he comments: “Facing adversity after losing my mum in 2013 was a major influence as I wanted to prove to myself that I can overcome adversity and become even better.”
He’s always enjoyed tremendous family support – and he’ll have close relatives with him at Augusta. “My family have been incredible over the years. The support they have shown me through highs and lows is extremely humbling and I am grateful to have such an amazing family.”
Ellis also has thanks for his own team, Kristian Baker, Karl Morris and Chris Sells, and to Florida State University, where he is a student. “Coach Jones and Coach Duck gave me a phenomenal opportunity and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. They believed in me from the beginning and we have had some special times as a team over my four years.”
Playing for England and with other elite amateurs has also played its part. “I was 13 when I first had England training and although I have not been part of the training for the past four/five years, I have to say that being around other great players and challenging each other to get better definitely helped my successes through my teen years. Representing my country was always a great honour and privilege too.”
Caption: Harry Ellis, left, with Doc Redman after the Georgia Cup match. (Image courtesy The Golf Club of Georgia).