Gregory: Ellis’ Augusta practice rounds will be key

Harry Ellis. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.
Harry Ellis. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.
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Harry Ellis’ practice rounds at Augusta will stand him in good stead ahead of his Masters debut.

That is the verdict of Scott Gregory, who was in the exact same position this time last year.

Ellis is making his final preparations before he bids for the Green Jacket for the first time next Thursday.

The Meon Valley Golf Club talent will compete in his second Major, after missing the cut at The Open, at Royal Birkdale, last year.

Ellis has been in America for the past three years representing Florida State University.

While he’s been Stateside, the 2017 British amateur champion had the opportunity to play at Augusta in October and get to know the Georgia course.

It’s something Gregory – from Corhampton Golf Club – never had the chance to do before he made his Masters bow 12 months ago.

And he reckons that is a significant advantage for his former England and Hampshire team-mate.

Gregory said: ‘I didn’t have the chance to go to Augusta before the Masters.

‘That is a big advantage for Harry heading into it.

‘I told him if he has the chance to play Augusta beforehand then go and do it – and as much as you can.

‘He’s also been in the climate of playing competitive golf for the full year at Florida State so he’s going to be fresh having competed in tournaments while I wasn’t.

‘It’s a very big advantage and he’s going to be feeling confident going into it, no doubt.

‘We’ve shared a few messages and I asked him how his first trip to Augusta went.

‘We also had a good chat about it at the European Amateur and the Walker Cup last year.’

Augusta is one of the most challenging courses in the world and has broken even the sport’s best in the past.

Gregory expects Ellis to have a mixture of nerves and excitement on the first tee at Augusta.

And he revealed the biggest challenge the 22-year-old may face will be around the greens.

‘That first tee shot is nerve-racking but, as an athlete and a sportsman, you’ve dealt with similar things before,’ the Waterlooville talent added.

‘You know how to deal with it and the excitement I felt the night before was incredible.

‘For me, the biggest challenge was around the greens. It’s very tricky in those areas because the fringes are quite slow and the greens are very fast.

‘It’s tough to put off the greens from positions that you’d normally putt from and striking the chips is tough because the grass is a bit longer.

‘However, Harry will be putting in some good practice and his long game is very strong.’