England’s Harry Ellis secured a place at next month’s Open after winning the 122nd Amateur Championship in dramatic fashion at Royal St George’s, beating Australian Dylan Perry in a sudden death play-off.
The 21-year-old from Hampshire was seemingly headed for defeat at Sandwich after trailing Perry by four with only five of the 36 holes remaining.
However, a bogey six on the 32nd hole by Perry was followed by further dropped shots on the 34th, 35th and 36th as Ellis recovered to all-square to send the match to sudden death.
The pair halved the first extra hole but a double-bogey six from Perry on the second proved decisive, with Ellis claiming victory thanks to another par – his seventh in succession.
Ellis, who at 16 became the youngest winner of the English Amateur Championship in 2012, has now earned a spot at the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale as well as next year’s Masters and US Open.
He was almost overcome with the way he fought back to win.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t believe what I have just done but you should never give up and never give in. I just kept giving myself chances down the stretch and luckily played much better than I had all day and somehow it was good enough that we had to go to the 38th hole.
“I didn’t think I was ever done but I knew the task was getting tougher and tougher, especially after I missed the par on the 13th to go four down with five to play. It was always going to be a tough task but 14 was quite pivotal.
“I needed to hit a good chip on 15 and I did. I needed to hit a good bunker shot on 16 and I did. Luckily, I hit those shots first and kept putting the pressure on. I cannot believe what happened down the stretch!”
Ellis is now looking forward to his participation in the Open.
“It is very soon,” he said. “Obviously, it’s on another links course at Royal Birkdale so we will see how we go. I just want to soak up the experience there and get as much from it as I possibly can. It has always been a dream to play in majors and I get to play in three now. My game is in a good place so hopefully I can do something there. For me I just want to soak it in.
“My life tried to change at 16 when I won the English Amateur but I think at 21 I’m ready for it. I understand what is going to be ahead. Really, I just appreciate life a lot more, you know the story behind everything [his mother passed away four years ago], and I’ve got to put it into perspective. Golf is an up and down game – it gives you some really bad times and it give you some really great times like today and just got to take the rough with the smooth.”
The nature of the defeat was hard to take for Perry.
“I’m a bit bummed but golf is a strange game,” the Australian said. “At the end of the day I have got to take the positives out of the week and move forward.”