Porteous eyes elusive double at Sanlam SA Amateur

South Africa’s number one amateur Haydn Porteous hopes to add his name to an exclusive list of players when he tees it up at Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at Country Club Johannesburg next week.

Porteous claimed back-to-back victories in the SA Strokeplay at Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa this month and hopes to add his name to the six players who have managed to win the elusive ‘double’ in the same calendar year.

Since the SA Stroke Play was added to the annual schedule in 1969, only Etienne Groenewald (1980), Ben Fouchee (1987), Neville Clarke (1988), Titch Moore (1996), Louis de Jager (2007) and Jacques Blaauw (2008) have managed this feat and Porteous hopes to emulate his contemporaries and add his name to this exceptional league of gentlemen.

“I would really like to lift the title this year, but I am not going to put myself under too much pressure,” he said. “There are just too many factors I can’t control.

“It will be a great bonus if I can win the double, but I am just hoping for good weather and great matches. I can’t afford to make the double the focus of the week. I made that mistake last year, so this time around, I’ll take it match for match to get myself into the final first.

“Only then will I take aim at the title.”

Porteous was among the early departures at the championship at Mowbray Golf Club last year after unheralded Harrismith golfer Louis Taylor thwarted his bid to win the elusive double in the second round. Taylor, in turn, was taken out by Brian Soutar in the quarter-final and the Scotsman eventually beat South Africa’s Brandon Stone for the prestigious title.

But, over the last 12 months, Porteous has gained a lot of experience, both in South Africa and abroad, and could be the man to beat.

He won the SA Stroke Play, KwaZulu-Natal Match Play, the Boland Open, Limpopo Open and the Oppenheimer Trophy to take pole in the South African Golf Association’s rankings. A tie for second at the Carrick Neill Scottish Stroke Play Championship and a top 20 finish at the St Andrews Links Trophy further underlined his growing stature.

Porteous was also key to the country’s 12th Africa Zone VI Championship title in April last year and he made his debut alongside Stone and Zander Lombard at the World Amateur Team Championships in October.

Having started the 2013 season with triumph at the season-opening Prince’s Grant Invitational, a tie for third at the KZN Open and a second place finish behind Toby Tree at the Gauteng North Amateur in January, as well as a two-stroke victory in the SA Stroke Play against a strong international line-up, Porteous is taking some good form into the championship.

But Porteous warns against complacency.

“In this format, anything can happen,” he said. “In match play, you only get one chance to win. You lose, you’re out, so you should never underestimate your opponents, no matter how young or old, or how experienced or inexperienced.”

The prestigious event has once again drawn a strong international presence, including top English amateur and back-to-back Gauteng North Open champion Toby Tree, the four-man New Zealand team that finished second at the recent Ten Nations Cup and 12 members of the Scottish Golf Union’s Mens National Squad.

Sanlam Group Marketing Sponsorship manager, Gary van Loggerenberg, said Sanlam is proud to be associated with the SAGA’s flagship event and added that that he expects the strong international line-up to push the South African players to higher levels of success.

“Foreigners have won the last three Sanlam SA Amateur Championships and that is something the South African amateurs won’t take lying down,” he said.

“England’s Laurie Canter won in 2010, Scotland’s Michael Stewart beat his countryman Paul Shields for the 2011 title and last year, Brian Soutar beat Brandon Stone for another Scottish victory.

“I believe our amateurs will put up a huge fight this year to make sure the trophy returns to home soil.”

The field of 144 amateurs will contest the 36-hole Stroke Play qualifier from 24-25 February, with only the top 64 players challenging for the Sanlam SA Amateur over three rounds of match play from 26 February to 1 March.

The Match Play stages consist of 18 holes on Tuesday, 18 holes in the morning and afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday respectively and the final will be played over 36 holes on Friday.

This year’s winner will be exempt into the 2013 South African Open Championship and play alongside defending champion Henrik Stenson from Sweden.

Posted in