Porteous’ pro plans on hold after victory

Garrick Porteous’ victory in the English Amateur Championships at the weekend has forced him to postpone his plans to turn pro.

The 23-year-old’s victory at Deal won him invitations to play in The Open at Muirfield next month as well as the US Open and Masters next year.

“Playing in competitions like this and lining up alongside the best golfers in the world is something I could only dream about earlier this year,” he said. “Now it’s going to happen and it will be like a dream come true.

“I had planned to turn pro at the end of this year, but The Masters could be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion and I don’t want to turn that up. That’s why I have decided to put my plans on hold for the time being.”

Porteous says playing in The Open at Muirfield next month will also be ‘a tremendous honour,’ but before that he will go to Denmark as part of a six-man English team for the European Teams Championships.“I was also supposed to be playing in the Brabazan Trophy this week, but have decided to give it a miss.”

Porteous, who started playing golf at Bamburgh when he was only four, is still a member of the club, but says he has only played there ‘two or three times’ over the past two years. His family home is at Morpeth and he is also a member of the Northumberland Club at Gosforth in Newcastle.

“Both clubs have been in touch this week to say they are going to make me an Honorary Member and that is another honour I am delighted to accept,” he said.

Of his performance at Royal Cinque Ports in Kent, he said: “The weather was brutal at times, with the wind and rain. I went with the intention of qualifying for the matchplay, but after that I knew it was a lottery of the draw.

“Thankfully, everything worked out well for me and I just hope I can keep it going in the future.”

The 23 year-old won the Amateur Championships with a 6 and 5 win over Finland’s Toni Hakula.

That also makes him a certainty for inclusion in the GB and Ireland Walker Cup team to face the Americans at Long Island in September.

Porteous, who won the Scottish Strokeplay Championships earlier this year, became the first Englishman in over a decade to win the event, the last one being Gary Wolstenholme in 2003.

The 36-hole final at Deal was played in very blustery conditions. Winds reached 40mph and there was driving rain with temperatures dropping so low that the players had to play their first round wearing mittens.

Porteous, who shot a first round 82, was three up after the first 18 holes, but he had to overcome a first hole set-back when the 21 year-old Hakula, who shot 84, remarkably holed out in one.

Porteous won the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth to take a commanding lead at the turn.

The Finn won the 10th and 12th but Porteous claimed 13 before Hakula won 15 and 16 to reduce the deficit to just one hole.

He could not maintain that momentum, however, and wins on 17 and 18 put Porteous well in control.

The weather improved for the second 18 and Hakula won the second, but Porteous won the third, fifth and ninth to take a five-hole lead on to the back nine.

Hakula was not giving up and he holed a long putt for birdie on 10 to reduce the deficit, but wins on 12 and 13 handed Porteous a convincing victory.

After lifting the trophy a proud Porteous said: “It feels just unbelievable. I can’t quite get to grips with it.

“I definitely had an advantage in the wind and growing up on links golf, it’s second nature to me. I know how to hit it low, hit it high and how to chip and run. I knew it was going to be a grind and wasn’t intimidated.

“It’s quite a surreal feeling right now. I know there are a lot of famous names on that trophy. To be alongside them is pretty humbling.

“I felt confident coming into the week but I never got ahead of myself. I just played one shot at a time and it worked. I think it will hit me next week when I realise I will be playing in The Open. It is just over an hour away from my house so there will be a lot of local fans coming out to watch.”