Ellis leaves nothing to chance at Open

Harry Ellis during practice at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Harry Ellis during practice at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Scott Gregory. Picture: PA Images

Gregory starting to earmark his schedule for next season

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Playing in the Open as an amateur brings its complications – strict rules are in place over how any money is raised to fund players before they can turn professional.

Finding accommodation, travel and even a caddy does not come cheap.

But they are all vital components in giving a player the best chance to compete against the world’s finest players in the oldest golf championship.

Ellis has left little to chance in his preparation for this week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

And he has some very wise heads helping him before Thursday’s opening round – when he will be paired with 2011 champion Darren Clarke and America’s Gary Woodland.

Ellis has his long-term coach Kristian Baker, who was a friend and regular golf partner of Justin Rose in his youth.

Baker also coached Ross Fisher, regarded as one of the best ball-strikers in British golf, when he earned a five-year exemption on tour by winning the 2008 European Open at The London Club.

Ellis’ long-game prowess came to the fore when he battled back from four down with five to play to beat Australian Dylan Perry on the 38th hole of the British Amateur last month.

Ellis said: ‘I am very proud to be amateur champion.

‘And while I am still an amateur, I want to prepare well for this week and put on a display in as professional a manner as possible.

‘My dad, Murray, has put in a lot of work since I won at Sandwich less than a month ago – sorting out accommodation and the logistics.

‘He’s been doing the agent role, if you like.

‘Kristian is a fantastic coach and I really appreciate having him around me with his experience.

‘And obviously I know Brooks Koepka from my time at Florida State University, so I was able to hook up with him for a practice round. I had only played with him and another FSU graduate Daniel Berger in terms of top tour players before this week.

‘I know Justin Rose and have met him but never got to play with him.

‘The plan is I will play my last practice round with him on today.’

The connection with Koepka – whose brothe, Chase, is now playing on the European Challenge Tour, from which the US Open winner graduated before earning his status on the PGA Tour in the States – goes even further.

Koepka uses performance analyst Chris Sells, from strokeaverage.com, to monitor his stats. And Ellis has been using the same service after meeting him through Hampshire Boys back in 2009.

Ellis added: ‘Chris works with many of Europe’s top players as well as Brooks.

‘He was able to secure Micky Doran – Luke Donald’s regular caddy – for this week through his contacts.

‘Having one of the top caddies on tour on the bag is another big plus to help me settle in at this level.’

The last member of the team is sports psychologist Karl Morris, who has worked with 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell.