He’s missed the cut in his last two tournaments, but Haydn Porteous (@HaydnPorteous) travels to the Zambia Sugar Open this week happy in the knowledge that a good performance in the R1.2-million tournament could see him to the top of the 2014 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year race.
He’s still a month short of his 20th birthday, and he’s only R50,000 short of Dane Lucas Bjerregard who tops the standings for Rookie of the Year – and before the two missed cuts, he had a run of three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a third place in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
It was the tournament in Harare which will give him most confidence ahead of the four days on the Lusaka Golf Club layout: He led going into the final round, and he only lost out to a hard-charging Jbe’ Kruger, who produced his best form of the past year when it mattered most and raced away to the victory.
But Porteous’ first three rounds produced scores of 69-66-64 before he closed with a one-over-par 73 which perhaps spoke to his professional inexperience as much as anything else. He has a storied amateur career to lean on when times get tough: He won the South African Amateur Championship in 2012 and 2013, and he took the South African Stroke-Play Championship in 2013 too. That has made him into one of the players to watch this week.
He finds himself R200,000 clear of the next player on the Rookie of the Year table, and that’s his fellow Modderfontein Golf Club player Callum Mowat. Porteous turned professional in October last year, and was immediately able to play in some European Tour and Challenge Tour, while Mowat is still coming to terms with how tough it is to reproduce amateur form in the professional ranks.
Mowat’s best finish was a share of 21st in the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland, but his share of 29th in the European Tour co-sanctioned Tshwane Open earned him his biggest payday.
Like Porteous, Mowat will want to take advantage of the earning potential the R1.2-million prize fund gives him in Lusaka.