HARRY Ellis has taken the first step towards regaining his English Amateur crown after making it through to the matchplay knockout at Saunton, which gets under way this morning.
The 2012 champion was just 16 when he broke Sir Nick Faldo’s record as the youngest ever winner of the blue riband event in amateur golf.
Ellis returned to the UK two months ago from the United States, where he has embarked on a golf scholarship at the University of Florida, having had a difficult year in 2013 after his shock win at Silloth-on-Solway in the 2012 final.
The Meon Valley Golf & Country Club player took the 59th qualifying spot in the draw but, having sneaked just inside the cut mark, the teenager will have few fears about facing Darlington’s Andrew Wilson, the sixth seed.
Ellis shot a three-over par 74 on Tuesday on the longer East course at the North Devon club, to go with his opening 73 on the West, on Monday.
The England international was one of four Hampshire players to make it through to the last 64.
Ellis was joined in the hat by another US college golfer in the shape of Rowlands Castle’s Billy McKenzie, winner of the Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year award in his first season at William Woods University, in Missouri.
The left-hander added a 73 on the West to his opening 70 on the East to claim 17th place and a clash with Paul Kinnear, from Formby, in a tough opening match against the England international, who grew up playing Lancashire links courses.
Corhampton's Scott Gregory is also through, after rounds of 71 and 74, setting up a clash with Prudhoe Golf Club's Thomas Rowland in the opening knockout round.
Hayling’s Jamie Mist, who will return to Alabama’s Jacksonville State University in September, endured a roller-coaster ride before booking his place in the first-round draw, picking up six birdies in his level par 71.
But a double bogey on the first on the East yesterday and four more dropped shots spoiled what could have been the round of the qualifying event, as he ended the day in 51st place, on four-over par for his 36 holes.
Mist will play his Gamecock’s team-mate Tomaz Anderson, from Hertfordshire, who was knocked out in last year's semi-finals by 2013 US Amateur Champion Matt Fitzpatrick, for a place in the last 32, on Thursday.