Scott Gregory: From Royal Porthcawl to Augusta National
It was David against Goliath. Adrian Meronk, the giant 6’6” Pole, was carving a swathe through the Amateur Championship field- crashing his fairway wood 30 yards past where most hit their drivers.
Scott Gregory’s game is more Zach Johnson than Dustin. A steady accumulation of fairways and greens.
But big isn’t always better. Along with a growing set of disciples, I watched in admiration at Royal Porthcawl as the Corhampton talent went about his work in their semi-final clash. Meronk was only ever in front on the fairway. On the scoreboard, Gregory squeezed the life out of him.
The next day, he won the tournament. A month later, he was briefly leading the Open Championship at Royal Troon. The 22-year-old has got this season off to a flying start, winning the New South Wales Amateur during a month out in Australia.
He insists there’s no reason why he can’t be the low amateur at the Masters as he prepares to join Jack, Tom and Tiger on the honours board of Augusta amateurs.
Has it sunk in that you’re playing the Masters?
It’s pretty unbelievable. Every time I talk about it or think about it, it still doesn’t really feel real. It is one of those things you always dream of – getting the invite in the post and going down Magnolia Lane.
The invite came about three days after I left for Australia. My girlfriend opened it with me on FaceTime – so I sort of opened it. I’ve got it at home and am sorting out a display to hang it on the wall.
It was quite strange really. I guess normally I would have opened it straightaway. I wanted to see it in person and, when I got home, the first thing I did was get it out.
You led the Open after 10 holes but missed the cut. What did you learn from the experience?
I think I learned quite a lot. I don’t think I played the back nine poorly because I was under pressure from leading. There were some other things that happened. I learned about being on the clock and I know I can stick to my own routine. I wasn’t on the time limit.
In my head it shows I can contend with the guys out on tour and that’s quite a big thing for me going forward. I am a bit of a leaderboard watcher. I knew I had a putt to tie the lead. It was one of those things I will never forget.
Have you been to Augusta yet?
I spoke to a few guys at the Open – like Webb Simpson and Justin Rose – and they advised me the best time to go is in March. The weather is starting to get better and the course is playing more like it does (during the Masters).
So I am going to go about three weeks early for some practice. I’ll go to Augusta, do some work there, head away and then go back for the tournament.
What’s your earliest Masters memory?
I don’t know exactly what year it was but I can remember seeing Tiger Woods play up the 18th. It was probably in 2001 or 2002. We’ve watched it every year since. If we didn’t have Sky, we always paid for it. It’s a pretty special tournament and I am over the moon to be in it. It’s just the exclusivity of
it all. It’s not a course that, if you have got a lot of money, you can rock up and play. You need to know someone there or you need to win stuff to play there. It’s the prestige. I have seen it on TV so many times.
Will you be enjoying the delights of the Crow’s Nest?
I will. It’s one of those things that, even if you just do it for one night, you want to do it. It’s got all the history and you get to share that with everyone who has been there. The only way to get in there is to win an Amateur.
What’s a good week for you?
First and foremost would be making the cut. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to win the low amateur. It’s about playing four solid rounds of golf.
Amateurs can bag some prestigious practice partners at the Masters.
Who’s on your radar?
Obviously I am going to play a practice round with Justin Rose. He has been there plenty of times and knows the course.
I will hopefully spend a bit of time with him. I will try and meet some of the older guys who have played it if I can – like Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. If I could even sit down with them for half an hour, that would be beautiful.