SANDWICH, England – Florida State’s Harry Ellis might just have help from above when he faces Australian Dylan Perry in the final of the British Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s.
The Englishman defeating Italy’s Luca Cianchetti, 3 and 2, in the semifinals, while Perry bettered Florida’s Alejandro Tosti by the same score.
Ellis, a rising senior, lost his mother Tracy to cancer in December 2013 just over a year after becoming the youngest winner of the English Amateur. The 21-year-old was just 16 when he won his national championship, taking over from Sir Nick Faldo as the championship’s youngest winner.
The sports management student has had to do a lot of growing up since losing his mother. Florida State has played a major part in helping him mature into a British Amateur finalist, and a certain Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup player for the match at Los Angeles Country Club in September.
“When I went to Florida State we were ranked number one in the country and we had three or four players ranked inside the top 40 in the world,” Ellis said. “It wasn’t easy to break into the lineup. Obviously I had just lost my mum when I first started. So I had several things to overcome and grow up and learn from. That experience is probably one of the reasons I am where I am today.”
Ellis arrived in the South of England fresh from a successful college season that saw him make the European Palmer Cup team. Winning one match out of four as Europe lost 19.5-10.5 didn’t suggest a successful British Amateur Championship, but Ellis knew better.
“I’ve played well all week and I could see it coming. I didn’t have much individual success in the Palmer Cup, but I played a lot of good golf,” Ellis said. “That gave me a sense that I belonged at the top of amateur golf.”
Ellis finished third leading qualifier and has progressed smoothly through the match play stages. He and Cianchetti, the reigning European Amateur Champion, had a tight match over the front nine and were all square after 10 holes. Ellis won the 11th with a par and the 12th with a birdie to go 2 up. He closed out the match with a par on the par-3 16th.
“It shows how much my game has matured in the last five years since winning the English Amateur.
“I’m more mature. I’ve got a better head on my shoulders. I’ve had a massive learning curve. It helped going away to Florida State when I did. It was new and it was tough being in that environment because I was a nobody over there. That helped me stay in my own bubble and keep grinding and keep getting better.
“There’s still 36 holes to go and it’s very surreal, but it would be the icing on the cake to win this. Even if the outcome isn’t what I want tomorrow, it’s a huge step in the right direction.”
Perry, 22, played steady golf to defeat Tosti, racing to a three-hole lead after nine holes thanks to being 2 under and some uncharacteristically sloppy golf from Tosti. The Argentinean got back to 2 down after 11 but hit two balls out of bounds at the par-5 14th to go 3 down with four to play. He won the 15th with a par but handed Perry the par-3 16th, and the match, with a bogey when he missed the green right.
Perry is bidding to become the third Australian winner, and first since Bryden Macpherson in 2011 at Hillside.
“Another Aussie on that trophy would be outstanding,” said Perry, who reached the last 16 of the 2016 British Amateur Championship.
He might have to a bigger battle on his hands than he thinks. Ellis is sure his mother will be looking down on him during the final.
“She’s one of a few people up there looking after me,” Ellis said.