Por­te­ous eyes big Euro­pean Tour stage

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Young South African golf sen­sa­tion Haydn Por­te­ous is hop­ing to keep his spot in the top 15 of the Chal­lenge Tour Or­der of Merit so he can qual­ify for the Euro­pean Tour at the end of the year.

The chal­lenge is a feeder to the more prom­i­nent Euro­pean cir­cuit, which al­lows play­ers to com­pete at one of the high­est lev­els on golf’s sec­ond-big­gest stage in the world. The big­gest stage in world golf is the US PGA Tour. Por­te­ous (21), the coun­try’s for­mer top am­a­teur, earned a card to cam­paign in the chal­lenge af­ter win­ning the Kenya Open at the Karen Coun­try Club in Nairobi in April af­ter a spe­cial in­vi­ta­tion.

In that con­test, he holed out an ea­gle to claim a play-off vic­tory against com­pa­triot Bran­don Stone on the way to carding an im­pres­sive 17-un­der-par-271.

This se­cured Por­te­ous his maiden vic­tory since turn­ing pro­fes­sional in late 2013 af­ter a glit­ter­ing am­a­teur ca­reer.

Por­te­ous has played in eight events on the tour and is ranked ninth on the Chal­lenge Tour’s Road to Oman. His to­tal earn­ings on the cur­rent stand­ings are €46 267 (R643 645). ( See box.)

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view from Madeira in Por­tu­gal, where he was pre­par­ing for the Madeira Is­land Open that fin­ishes to­day, Por­te­ous said he was fight­ing hard to main­tain his con­sis­tency in the chal­lenge’s stand­ings and swing his way on to the leader­board of the high-pro­file tour.

“I have done well so far in the Chal­lenge Tour events that I have com­peted in,” said Por­te­ous.

“I have played in eight events and have fin­ished well although I have not won as yet. “This au­gurs well for me. “It will en­able me to fin­ish with good earn­ings be­fore I can com­pete against Europe’s best,” he said.

Por­te­ous said his aim was to play in 15 more games be­fore he could get what he called “the big­gest break”.

He was con­fi­dent of mak­ing a mark in top-flight golf.

Por­te­ous said cam­paign­ing in the elite tour would al­low him to fol­low in the foot­steps of top South African golfers like Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, both of whom have pre­vi­ously won ma­jors.

Por­te­ous will tee up in the North­ern Ire­land Open in Bal­ly­mena, North­ern Ire­land, on Thurs­day.

“I have pre­pared hard for the com­ing con­test and I should win it con­vinc­ingly.

“I have worked on my swing, which has been both­er­ing me,” he said.

Por­te­ous is men­tored by Ga­van Leven­son from Glendower Coun­try Club in Johannesburg.

Por­te­ous’ fa­ther, Dave, be­lieves he has the po­ten­tial to make a mark in Europe.

“He takes his game se­ri­ously. I have no doubt he will make the grade in the near fu­ture,” said the fa­ther.

Un­like many pro­fes­sional golfers in South Africa who strug­gle with spon­sor­ship, Por­te­ous en­joys back­ing from lead­ing sports ap­parel brands such as Un­der Ar­mour, Call­away, Titleist and FootJoy.

PHOTO: PETRI OESCHGER / SUN­SHINE TOUR / GALLO IM­AGES

IN FO­CUS Haydn Por­te­ous has his sights on the Euro­pean Tour

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