Haydn Porteous (left; Picture: Richard Castka, European Tour) believes a big result this week at The Foshan Open will be crucial to his European Tour graduation hopes, and the South African got off to a strong start in China as he carded a seven under opening 65 to move to within one of the lead.
The 21 year old has proven this season why he is regarded as one of his country’s biggest prospects, winning the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open and remaining in the top 15 of the Road to Oman Rankings for the majority of the campaign.
He currently sits in 12th position and knows that a big result at Foshan Golf Club, in Foshan City near Guanzhou, would virtually secure his place on The 2016 Race to Dubai.
The Johannesburg player, who has three more top ten finishes to his name in his rookie Challenge Tour season, carded eight birdies and a three-putt bogey on day one and was happy with his opening effort.
“I really hit it good today, probably the best I’ve hit it all year,” he said. “I made a lot more putts than I thought I would, especially on the tenth, my first hole of the day – I hit a good 35 footer up the hill and it then I carried on from there.
“The wind seemed to get up a little bit in the afternoon, but I drove nicely, hit lots of greens and luckily I made a few putts. It is quite tricky to get it close, you’ve got to stick to the conservative side of the flag and luckily today I did that and hopefully tomorrow I can do the same.
“I got some really good momentum at the beginning with that big putt and this game is sometimes all about confidence.
“Obviously there’s big pressure this week and I couldn’t have asked for a better start, especially in the position I’m in in the Road to Oman, it’s quite easy to drop three or four spots at the end of the season. Today has put me in a really good position to hopefully get within the top five.
“There are obviously still three rounds to go but I’ve got to look at the positives and hopefully build on them and do the same the next three rounds.
“The win in Kenya was a bit of a shot in the dark, I had been battling with my golf for quite a while, I was quite surprised to have won in Kenya but a win is a win and I’ve felt like my golf has got more steady throughout the season.
“Here we are at the final part of the season and things are looking good. If I get into the right position, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself and take it one shot at a time and hopefully I’ll be holding that trophy at the end of the week.”