Friday 21st July 2017
Friday 21st July 2017
Andrew Griffin reports from Royal Birkdale.....
Harry Ellis is convinced he belongs playing golf at the top table and can’t wait to go about qualifying for his second appearance in The Open Championship after missing the cut at Royal Birkdale.
The 21-year-old Amateur Champion improved his first round score by two shots, but with a 68 the only score likely to get him into the third round draw - and a chance of winning the Silver Medal as the leading amateur in the 146th Open Championship – his 75 fell a long way short.
But for a second day running there was no way Ellis’ score reflected his performance playing alongside 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke, who was the losing Ryder Cup captain last year at Hazeltine, and two-time US PGA Tour winner Gary Woodland, who still has a chance of hoisting the Claret Jug, come Sunday when Kent’s Alfie Plant will be the recipient of the Silver Medal – as Justin Rose was when playing as a 17-year-old at Birkdale, back in 1998.
Plant was Ellis’ foursomes partner for England when they took the silver medal at last week’s European Amateur Championship, in Austria, and they look a natural pairing for Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup battle against the Americans at the Los Angeles Country Club, in September.
While Harry is already looking forward to next month’s trip to the US Amateur at Riveria, Los Angeles’ most famous PGA Tour venue, he was happy to take many positives from his week on the Lancashire links, having played practice rounds with US Open champions Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose, and Stewart Cink, winner of the Claret Jug in 2009.
Harry said: “I had a good look around, I took it all in. It’s one of the things when you are playing in this for the first time- the combination of not taking as much in and carrying on playing the golf course. But also you’ve got to get the full experience as well.
“I will remember playing the first tee shot and coming up 18 today, the finish. Could not quite make that birdie to go out with after hitting a good shot in.
“I really feel I belong out here. Obviously there’s plenty of opportunities to play ahead and this is the first pro event in a first Major.
“You’ve got to take the most from it. I feel like my game is there. I did not hit it as well as I have in recent weeks but I am already looking forward to taking some time off with the girlfriend and then heading back to America for a big month ahead.”
Ellis had to contend with even worse weather then on Thursday and things looked ominous after back to back bogeys at the third and fourth and sixth and seventh
Even when a birdie at the eighth gave a glimmer of hope, he gave the shot straight back after mixing with a greenside trap on the ninth and squirting his sand shot some 30 feet across the green from a poor lie after Clarke managed to get up and down from the same bunker successfully.
At one point play was suspended for 15 minutes after torrential rain flooded the 12th green.
A bogey four after more bunker trouble on the par three 14th meant Ellis had to cash in on the two par fives but he found a poor lie just to the right of the fairway traps on the 15th.
His brilliant recovery shot needed to just be a foot to the right but ended up in the sand again when the Florida State University student could have been looking at an eagle putt from inside 15 feet on the 542-yard hole.
Another booming drive on the 16th failed to bring any reward and he could only play the penultimate hole – which measured 567 yards and was down wind - in par.
While Ellis came home in one-over Woodland signed for a one-under par 69 thanks to some tour standard scrambling skills from which Ellis will hopefully learn and improve.
Corhampton’s Scott Gregory was tied fourth in the Europro Tour Cobra Puma Golf Championship at Machynys Peninsula Golf Club, in South Wales, after adding a final round 73 to his opening rounds of 65 and 74.
Last year’s Amateur Champion’s four-under par total was five behind winner Johnathan Caldwell, who picked up a £10,000 cheque. Gregory, playing as an amateur, was ineligible for a share of the £6,550 prize money for those finishing fourth.