England’s Scott Gregory has taken a successful step on his way to The Masters with victory in the annual clash of the British and US amateur champions.
The 22-year-old international won a thriller against Australia’s Curtis Luck, snatching the Georgia Cup on the first play-off hole at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Gregory, from Corhampton Golf Club in Hampshire, had to wait until the 17th to get his nose in front in the match and was then pulled back to all square on the 18th. But when he got his chance on the next he grabbed it.
The match was part of Gregory’s carefully planned warm-up for The Masters, where he’s earned his place alongside the giants of the game by virtue of his Amateur Championship win at Royal Porthcawl last June.
His invitation arrived when he was representing England Golf on a winter tour of Australia and he says: “My girlfriend opened it for me on Facetime! Now I’ve got it up on the wall in a display frame and it looks quality.”
Since he returned from Australia in early February, with a win in the New South Wales Amateur, he’s been preparing for his Augusta adventure.
He’s already been in the States for almost two weeks and now he’s at Augusta National for three days of practice before the arrival of his coach, Simon Andrews from the Portsmouth Golf Centre. Then, the plan is for a weekend off before Masters’ week begins.
Andrews will be at his side throughout the championship and Gregory is also importing a solid band of supporters of family and friends. He’ll also be drawing on the advice of a fellow Hampshire man, England Golf Ambassador and Olympic champion Justin Rose.
“He has been very helpful to me recently with little words of encouragement,” said Gregory. They played a practice round at last summer’s Open championship and now Gregory is hoping they’ll be grouped together in the par three competition which precedes the championship.
He’s also hoping to snatch a few practice holes with Masters’ legend Fred Couples, among others. “It will be exciting to see what it’s like,” he said. “It’s something I’ve watched on TV for years and it’s going to be cool to be there.”
Gregory’s first goal is to make the cut and then aim to be low amateur. “I think that’s something I can do and once you make the cut the doors are open,” he said.
He spills over with Masters memories from years of television viewing, picking out his personal highlights as Tiger Woods’ chip-in on 16 in 2005; Charl Schwartzel’s four consecutive birdies to win in 2011; Adam Scott’s winning putt in the 2013 play-off; and Jordan Speith’s dominance over the last three years, never finishing worse than second.
Now, he makes his own way down Magnolia Lane – the reward for many years of very hard work.
Gregory first hit a golf ball when he was about five and his father took him to the driving range. He was scratch by 16, but says he didn’t become ‘good’ until he was 18. By then he had teamed up with his coach, Andrews, made a lot of swing changes and started going to the gym to put on muscle. The aim was a place in an England squad and his results – including reaching the final of the 2014 English amateur – soon played him in.
The England Golf support has played its part in many ways, helping him with preparation, more structured practice and access to top coaches. “Graham Walker (the England Golf men’s squad coach) has been incredible for helping me with my short game. It’s come on a ridiculous amount since I’ve been in an England squad,” said Gregory.
Caption: Scott Gregory pictured after winning the Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl (Image © The R&A)