Scott Gregory’s official invite from the chairman of the Augusta National Committee to compete in the 2017 Masters was sat at his Waterlooville home for the best part of a month before he could finally get to hold it.
Now it is fair to say it does not stray far from the British amateur champion’s grasp as the clock begins to countdown to the day he takes his first steps along the hallowed Magnolia Drive in Georgia in early April.
Gregory was competing some 17,000 miles away at Royal Melbourne when the postman delivered the precious envelope in early January, signalling he would finally become the first amateur golfer from Hampshire to compete for a Green Jacket in the Masters’ 83-year history.
He said: ‘This invite is one that I’ve dreamed about for many many years and it’s a dream come true to finally have one arrive.
‘I was told it could arrive at any time in the couple of weeks before Christmas so it was a shame I was not at home when it finally arrived.
‘I got told on the morning of the first round of the Australian Masters of the Amateur at Royal Melbourne.
‘You cannot ask for a better start to the day waking up to something like that. I can’t wait to make the most of this opportunity in April.’
The 22-year-old may have only played one competitive event between October and early January, but the honours have kept rolling in.
At the end of 2016 he picked up Hampshire’s prestigious John Nettell Trophy for the second time for his outstanding contribution to amateur golf in the county after becoming its first player to land the British Amateur in its 132-year history.
And on the morning he teed it up in the NSW final, his dad was picking up the Havant Borough senior sportsman of the year award on his behalf after pipping Hampshire team-mate Bill McKenzie, from Rowlands Castle, who won the Tillman Trophy last summer.
The Corhampton ace said: ‘I have had a great year on the course and it is an honour to have that recognised by the Hampshire Golf Union and by the Havant Borough Sports Association.’
Gregory’s stellar achievements in 2016, which saw him crowned Great Britain and Ireland No. 1, make his English and GB&I international debuts and win silver at the World Amateur Team Championships after England finished second in the Eisenhower Trophy, left judges with an easy decision – although the overall sportsperson of the year honour went to Hawks community football coach Shaun Gale.
Gregory said: ‘I was a bit surprised not to win the overall award given the season I had last year, but that’s sometimes the thing with these awards.
‘It is a bit like when Rory McIlroy missed out to Lewis Hamilton in the BBC Sports Personality after winning two majors and the money list in 2014.
‘They’re great awards, but I think the titles you win on the course show more about the player you are.’