He played with one of the best Sunshine Tour players, but rookie Haydn Porteous outgunned his more experienced opponent with a flawless 64 on Saturday to take a commanding four-stroke lead in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
Porteous made six birdies and an eagle – his last bogey came 31 holes back, when he dropped a shot on the 14th after starting on the 10th for his second round at Royal Harare Golf Club – and his dominant performance saw him finish ahead of Jean Hugo, who has 14 Sunshine Tour titles, of Jacques Blaauw who won three times on the Sunshine Tour last year, and of Le Roux Ferreira, who has played professionally on the Sunshine Tour since 2010.
“It was one of those days where nothing can go wrong,” said Porteous. “I hit it probably the best I’ve hit it in a long while. I hit loads of fairways, loads of greens and made some putts. I went out with the same sort of game plan as I went into the last two days and I just holed a few more putts than I did on the first two days.”
And while Hugo had four bogeys interspersed with his six birdies, the rookie Porteous was watching, learning and simply playing better. “To watch a guy who has dominated like he has – he can definitely play this game – was really good,” said Porteous. “I was very happy when I saw I was playing with him because I’ve still got to learn a lot of things in this game.”
Behind Porteous, Blaauw also put in a bogey-free round, his six birdies giving him a share of second with Ferreira, who has been up atop the leaderboard since the opening round, and Hugo.
“My only frustration with that round was not taking advantage of the 16th,” said Blaauw. “I missed it way right, hit a good pitch and left myself about 12 feet for birdie and just pushed the putt. I had a horseshoe out at 17 as well.”
But for all that, he is riding a wave of form which will make the final round duel with Porteous an intriguing one.
In fifth place is 2010 Zimbabwe Open champion Jbe’ Kruger, who signed for a four-under 68 in the third round, while Andrew Georgiou fired a 66 to share sixth with Steven Ferreira who carded 69.
The leading Zimbabwean is still Tongo Charamba, who got it to 10-under, before a bogey on 16 saw him finish at 9-under for the tournament.
For Porteous, the final round will be the biggest test of his fledgling professional career. He won plenty of times as an amateur, but he knows this will be different. “I could hope for more of the same tomorrow,” he said, “but that’s obviously unlikely, so I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that I should shoot 64.
“I might not make as many putts as I did today, and I’ve just got to stay patient.”