SANDWICH, England – Florida State’s Harry Ellis fought back from four down with five to play to beat Australian Dylan Perry and win the 122nd British Amateur Championship at the 38th hole. He dedicated the victory to the recent loss of loved ones, including his mother Tracy, who died of cancer aged 50 in December 2013 just as Ellis was heading to college.
The 21-year-old Englishman added the British Amateur at Royal St George’s to the English Amateur Championship he won in 2012 at the age of 16, bettering Sir Nick Faldo by becoming the youngest to win that title.
The Hampshire, England native looked like he was destined to lose this championship, since Perry played better until the last few holes. All square after the morning 18, Perry went four up after 27 holes by hitting fairways and greens while Ellis’s game went slightly AWOL.
Perry made his first real mistake on the par-5 14th when he bunkered his second shot and failed to reach the green in regulation. Ellis, who will begin his senior year at FSU in September, nearly holed a chip shot at 15 and saved par to take the match to the 16th hole, which proved to be the turning point.
Both players missed the green, but Ellis got up and down from the bunker that cost Thomas Bjorn the 2003 Open Championship, while Perry missed a seven-foot par putt for the match. The Australian then bogeyed the last two holes to let Ellis get back to all square.
The match ended at the 38th hole when Perry missed the second green. He flubbed his first chip and needed another to get on the green. He missed his eight-foot bogey putt and made double bogey. Ellis, meanwhile, chipped to four feet from off the green, holed the putt and then let out a guttural roar.
“That was full emotion,” said Perry, who is studying sports management at FSU. “It’s just the emotion of the moment and what it took to come back. That was three or four years of all the grind, all the hard work, patience and finally it paid off.”
Ellis has been through an emotional treadmill since winning the English Amateur. He lost his mother, his grandfather and respected British golf professional and mentor John Stirling in that time. Needless to say, they were on his mind afterwards.
“I want to dedicate this victory to my mother, my grandad and John Stirling, who died earlier this year.”
“After what I’ve been through off the golf course, to overcome that today was slightly easier.
“I never gave up. I never thought I was out of it. I knew how hard it would be for Dylan. He was the better player over the course of that match because he made fewer mistakes than I did. He was deservedly in front and it’s tough on him what happened over the last few holes.
“I felt so calm coming down the stretch and it was only fitting to finish it off after the comeback.”
Perry, 22, was bidding to become only the third Australian winner.
“I’m pretty bummed, but at the end of the day you’ve got to take the positives out of the week,” Perry said. “I played well all day and down the stretch that’s what pressure does to some people. It just wasn’t meant to be but congratulations to Harry. He played well down the stretch so good on him.”
Ellis will now play in this year’s Open Championship, the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open and is a lock for the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team to face the U.S. at Los Angeles Country Club in September.
“It’s all stuff I’m ready for, prepared for. I‘ve grown up a lot and matured a lot.”
After his outstanding comeback performance at Royal St George’s and what he’s been through in his personal life, teeing it up against the world’s best shouldn’t faze him.