Gregory grinning after surreal but sensational year of success
This year has been life-changing for me.
Lots of nice things have happened in 2016 – it’s incredible really when I look back on it.
I have also had a few things happen that I didn’t want to, though, like missing cuts at The Open and British Masters.
But on the whole I have played some pretty nice golf all season – and the most important thing is that it has been good fun.
Winning the national order of merit last month capped the year off for me and shows that I have been able to stay consistent throughout 2016.
The aim of most top sportsmen is to be consistent in their sport – and as far as amateur golf in this country goes, that’s the one you want to win.
For me, to win that title shows that even on my bad days I managed to hang in and still post scores to get order of merit points and eventually top the rankings.
My standout moment for the year, which helped to make that possible, was winning the British Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
That just about does it for the season, really!
Me and my coach were joking at the start of the year that if I missed every single cut in 2016 but won the British Amateur Championship I would be pretty chuffed with myself. To be able to win that one was absolutely massive.
As far as British golf goes, it is the biggest amateur event you can win.
The US Amateur is obviously ranked very highly as well, but to be British and win the British Amateur is like being English and winning The Open.
It’s quite a nice thing to do!
I always believed I could win it but I didn’t really like to think about it too much.
I gave myself a chance to win by getting to the final but the emotions of the day were weird.
I was constantly trying to keep the thought of what was on the line out of my head.
But being able to play in The Open a month later and getting an invite to The Masters and US Open next year, it was difficult to keep those thoughts at bay.
The whole day was an emotional rollercoaster.
Holing the winning putt didn’t really sink in until I was chatting to my dad and coach at the side and I started to realise all of the different doors that were being opened.
To start with I was happy, but as soon as I saw my dad and gave him a hug I was crying.
I was hit by this realisation that with the opportunities I had just presented myself with by winning, I could set myself up for life playing golf as a career.
And the next month, there I am playing The Open at Royal Troon and leading the championship on the opening morning.
It was all a little bit surreal.
I felt like I could compete but I didn’t realise I could or would be competing that soon.
I enjoyed it but the fact I was leading The Open wasn’t the reason I ended up having a bad back nine and ultimately missing the cut – it was other things that happened in that round which weren’t avoidable.
But to be leading The Open didn’t feel out of place.
It is one of those things that shows me that if I am playing how I know I can play, then I can compete with the best guys in the world.
It’s a money-can’t-buy experience and there aren’t too many people who can put themselves in that position and see how they cope.
The big thing for me is that I have learnt a lot from the experience, which is a big boost for me.
To then play in the British Masters was another great opportunity and experience for me.
I learnt a lot from The Open and that definitely helped me in the week of the British Masters.
I had a professional caddie on the bag – Eduardo Molinari’s caddie – which helped because I got some nice insight into how he goes about plotting courses and how Molinari looks at things.
I was maybe guilty of trying to push too much in the first round and unfortunately just missed out on the cut by one shot after giving myself a chance with a good second round.
I am just 22 but now feel very experienced at amateur level and that can only help me going forward in my pursuit of turning professional next year.
Team golf has also been a lot of fun for me this year, too.
I made my Great Britain & Ireland debut in the winning St Andrews Trophy team (against Europe) and I think I may have been the top points scorer.
To be able to compete and cope with the pressure of being a GB&I player will certainly help in my aspirations of playing Walker Cup golf next year.
And to have helped England to the World Amateur Team silver medal at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico was another incredible experience.
We didn’t really think we had a chance and ended up getting a silver, so there was quite a big celebration when we all got our medals.
Hopefully, 2017 will bring more of the same success.