Wentworth return caps a memorable year for Ian Ellis
- Credit: Archant
Ian Ellis can reflect on one of his best years as a professional golfer – and had he taken just one less shot over two rounds at the BMW PGA Championship last May it would have been THE best.
He may have turned 40 a couple of years ago, but Ellis appears to be getting better with age and proved the point on regular occasions during the course of 2014, with his first appearance at the European Tour's flagship event for seven years being the undoubted highlight.
He also won his first East Region PGA event since 2007, made it through to the second stage of Tour School, qualified for Wentworth again and added more course records to his collection – but it was an overdue return to big time that meant the most to him.
'It's just a brilliant tournament to play in and it was great to go back after a number of years in the doldrums. It really did give me a big boost,' said Ellis.
'I had great support down there, from my wife, my sponsors and lots of other people and the most important thing was that I played well.
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'I felt so calm as I went round, and that's got a lot to do with the work I have being doing with Dan Abrahams (sport pyschologist and author of books 'Golf Tough' and 'Soccer Tough'), He has got me in a good place and I really am reaping the benefits.
'It was a great few days and of course the only disappointment was that I missed the cut by one shot. Had I played all four rounds at Wentworth I guess it would have been my best year ever – but I didn't let it affect me.'
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Ellis proved the point by going on to finish second in the East Region Order of Merit, with success at the Rayleigh Championship in September ending a long spell without a win at that level and setting up an exciting end to the season at the PGA play-offs in Turkey.
The Great Yarmouth and Caister professional was some way below his best on the opening day but his mental toughness saw him battle back to finish in a tie for eighth place – and then come through a five man play-off to secure a return visit to Wentworth next May.
'I didn't play well on day one but I battled my way to a one-over finish,' said Ellis. 'That's something Dan has taught me – you don't aways have your 'A' game out on the course, or even your 'B' game. Sometimes it's 'C' or 'D' and you have just got to accept that and make the best score you can.
'I kept myself in the tournament and then played much better on the next two days to give myself a chance of qualifying for the PGA Championship.
'The play-off was a bit nerve-racking, but it was five players going for three places and I played steadily to get through.
'Now I've got Wentworth to look forward to again – it's still nearly six months away but I can't wait!'
Qualifying for the second stage of European Tour School was also a source of pride for Ellis, even though he finished towards to the bottom of the field.
'I enjoyed going over to Spain and played solidly enough but I didn't putt that well and a lot of people were scoring better than me,' he said. 'But playing at that level was a good experience and I think it stood me in good stead for the play-offs in Turkey.
'As for other highlights, well I enjoyed being nine under par over two rounds to win the Norfolk PGA Strokeplay Championship at Royal Norwich, which is obviously a course I know very well. I equalled the course record of 65 there, which was nice, while I also set a new course record at Fakenham (65). I also made the cut in my first Challenge Tour (Scottish Hydro at Spey Valley) outing since 2008.'
On top of all that Ellis also won the Norfolk PGA Order of Merit for the ninth time.
'It's been an excellent year – and I am proud to have represented Great Yarmouth and Caister along the way. It has always been one of my favourites clubs – great course, great people – and I am really grateful for their support, and the support of all my sponsors.
'I'm very proud to be sponsored by Seajacks, Electrical Testing, Norfolk Floors, Insight Financial Associates and Pink Office as well as club manufacturers Cobra and clothing company Puma.'
Ellis is now preparing for the quietest period of a tournament professional's year.
It will give him the chance to spend some quality time with wife Colleen and three-year-old daughter Hollie – although coaching at Great Yarmouth and Caister and Browston Hall, and the occasional tournament, will keep him in touch with the sport he loves until the new season gets under way in earnest.
As well as in the EDP you can also follow Ian's progress on Twitter (@necky_fade) and his website ianellisgolf.com