A blustery week in Mauritius has prepared Joburg Open champion Haydn Porteous for the tough conditions he expects to face at the Irish Open, which starts Thursday.
‘Its good to learn how to play in the wind for the next couple of weeks. In Ireland I don’t think it is going to be any different, except it might be a little bit colder,’ he said.
In his maiden European Tour season the Johannesburg-born player has clocked up three top-20 finishes to go with his victory at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. However, his first outing abroad at the Open de Espana ended in a missed cut, so he’ll be striving for better at the K Club this week.
Last week at Anahita he experienced fierce winds and tied for 34th at seven-over-par. Two players broke par for the tournament. ‘Its been a tough week, its been a grinding week,’ said Porteous. ‘It tests your game, your iron play. To struggle to break par, you don’t see that a lot, except for maybe at the US Open.It was a good lesson to have in these last four rounds.’
Porteous faces a busy schedule in European for the next few months and will be keen to prove his mettle outside of South Africa. He tasted international success with a share of eighth at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February and 19th at the Volvo China Open earlier in this month, but is yet to contend for a title.
The difficult layouts of Europe, along with the inclement weather, force players to employ a range of shots while remaining focused. Porteous can take confidence from his previous excursions to Ireland – whilst campaigning on the Challenge Tour last year he tied for fifth at the Northern Ireland Open and backed it up with a share of 15th at the Volopa Irish Challenge.
This week at the K Club he faces an impressive field that includes tournament host Rory McIlroy, Masters winner Danny Willett, and defending champion Soren Kjeldsen. Shane Lowry, Scott Hend, and Joost Luiten will also be in the ring.
Along with Porteous, the South African contingent includes George Coetzee and Brandon Stone, both of whom could mount a challenge this week. Jean Hugo, Ulrich van den Berg, Hennie Otto, Darren Fichardt, Jaco van Zyl, Trevor Fisher jnr, and Richard Sterne are also in the field.