Porteous lines up SA Stroke Play title defence
School was a strong wind and a prickly golf course in Thursday’s third round of the South African Stroke Play Championship. And it appears Haydn Porteous took his lessons well.
The South African number one and defending champion in this event signed for a two-under 70 at the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa to lead the field on 10 under par, two strokes clear of Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti, Australia’s Brady Watt and South African Werner Ferreira.
Porteous is the first to admit he has struggled with his concentration during key rounds, and his start of two bogeys in his first three holes on Thursday suggested he was headed this way again.
But three birdies to the turn pulled him back under par for the round, and he added a further two birdies and one more bogey on the second nine.
“It wasn’t such a bad thing for me to start with those bogeys because it made me concentrate more, especially in the tough conditions,” said Porteous.
“I just kept telling myself that nobody was going to shoot 66 or 65 in these conditions, and that it was just a questions of getting through today with as little damage as possible and not throwing away the tournament.
“I’ve been battling with my concentration for the last few months and it was tricky trying to get used to the wind over the first few holes.”
The wind did indeed surprise many in the field after two days of perfect and hot weather.
And it’s also brought an intriguing mix to the leaderboard.
Tosti’s round of 68 in the tough conditions was a remarkable effort from the young Argentinian. “It was a difficult day, but I putted really well and holed some important putts from six feet. I’m two back going into the final day and playing well, and I know I can do it,” he said.
Watt, the highest ranked player in the field at second on the world rankings, was at 10 under with three to play thanks largely to a run of four birdies in five holes over the turn. But he bogeyed his final two holes to slip to two behind.
And Ferreira refuses to go away, having shared the first round lead, led on his own on day two and now still very much in this at two off the pace after his round of 73.
But Porteous may well have turned a significant mental corner in Thursday’s round. And he seems to also have luck going his way.
On the par-four eighth hole he was trying to hit a high fade off the tee and ended up pushing it way right, with the ball stopping just short of out of bounds. He went on to make birdie from there.
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