Ellis makes up for lost time

2016 Lagonda Trophy winner Harry Ellis Picture: James Fuller
2016 Lagonda Trophy winner Harry Ellis Picture: James Fuller
Scott Gregory. Picture: PA Images

Gregory starting to earmark his schedule for next season

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Harry Ellis sent a out big reminder of his talent with a masterful display at the Lagonda Trophy last week.

He finished on 10-under par for the 72 holes played to beat Essex’s Mitchel Sarling win by six shots.

And victory means Ellis jumps up enough places in the world rankings to be a confirmed starter for this weekend’s St Andrew’s Links Trophy at the home of golf.

The Meon Valley ace, who attends Florida State University (FSU), had become something of a forgotten man as he plied his trade out in the States.

But he admitted he was keen to make up for some lost time.

‘I don’t like to think of my win as me being back – more I am moving forward and just getting better,’ said Ellis.

‘I have struggled with my game since going to America, but I have been working hard using the fantastic facilities we have at FSU.

‘It is incredibly hard just to get picked to play each week, but I am benefiting so much from being over there and now it is starting to pay dividends.’

That was certainly the case on Cambridge’s Gog Magog course, with Ellis back playing the kind of golf that saw him win the English Amateur Championship as a 16-year-old in 2012.

He was five shots clear going into the final round and ended up winning the Lagonda Trophy by six to join a list of previous winners that includes Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

‘I have gained a few yards off the tee while away in America, which always helps, but my team decided we would go with my two iron and leave the driver in the bag except for just a couple of times each round,’ explained Ellis.

The strategy to keep the ball on the short stuff paid off as he opened with a 69, making five birdies and four bogeys, and followed that up with an almost flawless 65 to move into a three-shot lead at the halfway mark.

Having led going into the final round of the Delhi Cup at Hockley a fortnight earlier, when he was overtaken by club-mate George Saunders, Ellis knew he could not take anything for granted.

And he stuck to the game plan to extend his lead and secure a well-deserved maiden ‘big’ strokeplay win.

‘I knew Mitchel was on four-under and I just missed from seven feet on the last, but it was great to seal the win,’ added Ellis

‘That is my first big strokeplay victory – something I have struggled with a bit before – but it was fantastic to experience the emotions of building up a lead then having to sleep on it and come out and play 36 holes more the following day.

‘You do tend to go on to autopilot playing four rounds in two days and it can be exhausting, so to finish bogey free and play that well in the last two rounds was even more pleasing.

‘It is a shame I will miss the county championship at Hayling now, but I want to be up there in Scotland, playing against arguably the toughest field in a strokeplay event in the UK.’