It might be surreal to Harry Ellis right now but when he takes to the first tee at Augusta National this week it will mark the very real fulfilment of just one of the “amazing” opportunities that have been presented to the reigning Amateur Champion since his victory at Royal St George’s last June.
The 22-year-old from Meon Valley is preparing to follow in the footsteps of his former Hampshire teammate and 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory once again; a path he has enjoyed so far in lifting
The Amateur Championship trophy, making his major debut just weeks later at The Open and representing Great Britain and Ireland at The Walker Cup. The next step? Just a bit of golf at the Masters Tournament.
“For years I have watched it on TV and always dreamed of one day being a part of the event by playing in the tournament,” beamed Ellis.
“For the Masters to be so soon, it is very special. I can’t wait for the week to begin and just enjoy everything that comes with it. The whole opportunity to meet people, and play some golf in between, what an amazing opportunity.”
“The Walker cup was another phenomenal experience, if not the result we wanted. It was special to be part of that and another goal ticked off.”
Ellis defeated Australian Dylan Perry in the final of the 122nd Amateur Championship in June 2017, battling back from four down with five holes to play to win on the 38th hole in a dramatic final, securing exemptions for The Open, the 2018 US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to the following year’s Masters Tournament.
Reflecting on the past seven months, the Florida State student, who became the youngest player to win the English Amateur aged just 16 in 2012, is most pleased with the steady nature in which his golf has progressed since winning one of the biggest amateur titles in the world of golf.
“One of the things I wanted to do after winning The Amateur was to keep it kicking on,” said Ellis.
“I’ve manged to have two college wins in that time, I’ve played some pretty good stuff over here in the US. When you win a big event like The Amateur it’s sometimes hard to kick on, which is something I probably learnt after winning English Amateur.
“So, to be able to have played some of the golf I have in that stretch is already really encouraging.”
After his week at the Masters Tournament, Ellis will still have the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June to face before another young golfer seizes their own life changing opportunity at this year’s Amateur Championship.
“It is important to remember what you are playing for,” explained Ellis. “One of the bits of advice I was given was; ‘Go there and try and win The Amateur Championship – forget about everything that comes with it.’ That’s basically a mindset that makes you stay in the present and takes on the cliché one shot at a time.
“It’s a very long week and there are only two out of 288 that compete for title at the end of it. I think it’s about making sure you do all the preparation you can for The Amateur and just treat it as another tournament.
“If you are lucky enough to compete for the Championship in that final on the Saturday – just remember what you are playing for; not the opportunities that come with it – because as amazing as those opportunities are – sometimes they can act as a distraction and decrease your performance because your mind is thinking so much about them.
“Looking back on it, I think it was one of the things I benefited from when I was four down with five to play. I had nothing to lose then and everything to gain. That would be my advice to people playing in The Amateur Championship.”
Harry Ellis will compete in the Masters Tournament as one of six amateurs, including Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion Lin Yuxin and Latin America Amateur Champion Joaquin Niemann.
The 123rd Amateur Championship will be played at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links from 18 – 23 June, 2018. To enter, and for more information on the championship go to randa.org/Championships/TheAmateurChampionship.