Porteous cautiously optimistic in Turkey | SASCOC - SASCOC

Porteous cautiously optimistic in Turkey

When Haydn Porteous captured the Joburg Open crown in January, there were some who reckoned the former top-ranked South African amateur was on the fast track to success.
Porteous himself felt the breakthrough came a lot sooner than anticipated, so he kept his expectations low-key. ‘You don’t swallow an elephant whole, you eat it one bite at a time; so I set myself just one goal for the year and that was to make the field for the DP World Championship,’ Porteous said.
On the eve of the Turkish Airlines Open, he got a foot in the door, but is under some pressure.
At 80th in the Race to Dubai rankings, he is still two spots shy of automatic qualification for the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City next week and he needs to jump at least 20 spots to make the season finale in Dubai.
‘It’s do or die this week; time to step up,’ Porteous said. ‘It’s so ironic, because if you told me at the start of the season that I’d be in the Turkish Airlines Open this week, I would have taken it and run. The way I was playing at the start of the season, I never would have backed myself. Then came those four perfect rounds at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington. I never expected to win, but it happened and changed everything. Here I am, with a chance to make Dubai.’
His rookie season has been a real test and has given Porteous a big dose of perspective. ‘That walk up 18 was the best feeling in my entire life,’ he said. ‘I had chills going up and down my spine. I hoped I could recreate that feeling again, but the Joburg Open was just a start of one long learning curve.
‘I’ve played 29 tournaments this season with a real mixed bag of results; couple of top 10s, a few cheques and a bunch of missed cuts. I lost and gained confidence along the way, but I’ve learned a lot and I know it’s all going to be worth it in the long run.’
Porteous said his short game, always a strength, became a major stumbling block this season. ‘We grow up chipping out of kikuyu, but when you come on the European Tour, you don’t see kikuyu until you go home again,’ he said.
‘A lot of the short game has to do with confidence, with how you feel standing over the chip. Chipping and putting are two of the things that help you score and it feeds the confidence. When you suddenly face grass that is so different to what you are used to, it’s a scary thing.
‘At home, you know how the ball sits and how it’s going to react, but with this grass it’s different. The ball sits up differently and reacts differently out of the rough, especially around the greens. You don’t get much check out of the rough and when you are chipping out of the fairway, the grass is a lot tighter and the ball sits more down.
‘It’s tough to get your head around and to learn to trust your chip shots and to use the bounce more. I got less aggressive and tentative shots cost me, but I’ve felt the confidence starting to build again.’
The Joburg Open winner had a positive reaction to the Regnum Carya layout. ‘From the moment I started practising, it reminded me of the course where we played the 2012 Eisenhower Trophy and that gives me some positive vibes,’ he said.
‘The front nine is fiddly and you need to put yourself in the right positions to score. The back nine is a lot longer. You can hit a lot more drivers. It’s a tight golf course, but the back nine gives you a bit more forgiveness off the tee.
‘The greens are running fast and true and the rough is pretty long, but the club gets through it pretty easily. If you hit it to the wrong side of the green, though, you’re going to get very busy. It’s really nice to be back here and this tournament has delivered on everything the guys on Tour told me.
‘The hotel is just unbelievable and the Turkish hospitality is incredible. I heard that you’ll never see guys on the driving range after a round and I experienced that at first hand yesterday. Everyone just headed right back to the pool and the beach at the hotel.
‘I’m feeling really good about my chances. There is a strong field here, so it will be tough to come out on top, but the confidence is there and this course could take me to the DP World Championship.’

Picture of Haydn Porteous courtesy of Lali Stander

One Comment

  1. Susanne Venter

    November 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Watched this guy played at Woodmead a few years back. What a talented young man!

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