Haydn Porteous, the young South African golf star who won the Joburg Open last month before keeping the likes of Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson on their toes in last week’s Dubai Desert Classic where he finished tied eighth, has gone on record as saying that the key to his new-found success is that he’s playing more consistent golf.
“Last year as a new pro and in my amateur days my game was all about making birdies, but that go-for-broke approach also meant I made quite a few bogeys,” he reasoned.
“My strategy is to now play more conservatively because four birdies and no bogeys, for example, adds up to a lower score than six birdies and three or four drops.”
Fair comment from a fast-maturing young golfer, still only 21, but this game doesn’t always work out exactly as you plan it.
In Thursday’s opening round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club, Porteous started at the 10th hole before picking up a birdie two at the 14th. He then bogeyed 16, 17 and 18 to be out in two-over 37. And when he bogeyed the first as well he had dropped four shots in a row. A birdie followed at the second hole, but worse was to follow at the tough, par-four fourth hole where he found water. It wasn’t lying too deep so he removed his shirt, shoes and socks, waded in and took aim at the submerged ball. The ball just got onto dry land but the hole did cost him a double-bogey, and suddenly he was an unhappy four over par with just five holes to go.
But this talented, long-hitting young pro then went into impressive fightback mode with birdies at four of the next five holes to sign for a level-par 70.
That left him just inside the top 25 on the leaderboard so he’s certainly not out of the running with 54 holes to go. Still, he’d probably be the first to admit that six birdies, four bogeys and a double didn’t exactly square with his new strategy. Then again, that’s golf for you. It rarely goes precisely by the book.