Ellis: I'm going to the Walker Cup to make more historySeptember 6, 2017 Golf News
He made history at the Amateur Championship. Now, he tells NCG, Harry Ellis plans on doing the same in Los Angeles...
At four down with five to play you’re thinking about shaking hands and getting off the course – anywhere so you don’t have to watch your opponent basking in the glory.
Some, though, are made of sterner stuff.
When Meon Valley’s Harry Ellis faced that seemingly insurmountable deficit – and he was three down with three to play as well – against Australia’s Dylan Perry in the Amateur Championship Final at Royal St George’s, he drew on reserves few of us have.
Lifting the famous trophy following a dramatic match that went to the 38th hole and blocking off his calendar for the next 11 months.
It booked him a berth in the Open at Royal Birkdale and, although he missed the cut, there were plenty of positives to take out of the experience.
The Masters and Shinnecock Hills, for the US Open, are still in the distance. But now firmly on the radar of the Hampshire 21-year-old is the Walker Cup at the Los Angeles Country Club.
Only two Great Britain & Ireland teams have ever come away with a win from American soil. But Ellis, the Florida State University senior, is confident his team can defy the odds.
How on earth did you come back from that deficit in the Amateur Final?
You draw from previous experience. I have been in a few finals – some have gone my way, some haven’t. I was so calm and so collected the whole time.
I accepted that I wasn’t playing good enough in the final and deserved to be that far down. But I never believed I was out of it. I kept telling myself to keep hitting good shots. The final stretch at Royal St George’s is no gimme.
You won the English Amateur at 16. Now you’re a history maker. Only three players have won both Amateurs…
That stat about being a history maker is the one that really makes me go ‘Wow!’
When I won the English Amateur, it was a lot to deal with. There were a lot of things to balance out.
When I look back, I think ‘thank God I did’. I always wanted to win the Amateur Championship – because it is the Amateur.
To join that club, and to beat Sir Michael Bonallack’s record by six years [in terms of age], was pretty impressive.
I was happy in the strokeplay. I played a fantastic round at Royal St George’s – it could have been a 63 – and I drew a lot of confidence from that round. But I was disappointed not to win the strokeplay.
The last 64 [of the matchplay stage] can sometimes be the hardest match. Everyone is still fresh and it’s all very even so it was good to get that one out of the way. You’ve got to play good golf and, most of the week, through the middle part of the round was where I really won the matches.
Now you are off to compete in the Walker Cup…
It’s a lifelong dream and just the cherry on top. We will have a great team and a great chemistry and I’m going to embrace the whole experience.
It’s such a great event. I’ve seen it for so many years and I know players who have gone to play in it. It’ll be my birthday when I am out there.
You play most of your golf in the US college system. Did being there make it a harder task to get in the GB&I team?
I believe it makes it harder to be selected. I have played pretty good all year so the Amateur was no real surprise to me. I made the mistake of winning the English Amateur [five years ago] and really pushing the following year to get into the team.
When you push like that, nine times out of 10 it makes it harder to perform and make it.
In the five years since, I have matured so much and matured as a golfer. My main focus was to make the Arnold Palmer Cup team in college.
I know that my mind is very short term and that if I took care of business I could have a chance. I was on the fringes, now I have cemented my place.
What have you learned from playing across the pond?
You grow and I wanted to experience that. There’s a reason why golfers are playing over there. It is about developing as a golfer.
I knew that I was good but that I needed to get better. The whole experience is the reason I am here today. It puts you in good stead. If you want to play on the PGA Tour, it prepares you for that. You learn to prepare for each tournament and get used to practising with a lot at stake.
Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Paul Casey – a lot of great players have been in GB&I Walker Cup teams…
You join an illustrious set of names over the years and see what those players have gone on to achieve. You are in good company. But nothing is guaranteed from the Walker Cup.
There are a lot of players who don’t kick on as much as they should. For me, it is that I have been rewarded for my individual play. It is going out there and playing hard and going to bring the trophy back.
What a task that is. So few GB&I teams have won in America…
You have got to take that away mentally and realise that if we all stick together and play tough, we can beat them at home.
That would feel even sweeter taking it back. You work hard and this is where you dream of being over the last few years. I believe that I am where I belong and to give myself these opportunities is great.