Carrick Neill Scottish Stroke Play Championship: Day One Afternoon Report
Haydn Porteous, the South African Stroke Play champion, already has the Scottish equivalent in his sights after opening up a two-shot lead on a glorious day on the west coast at Kilmarnock (Barassie).
With a host of international players vying for the Carrick Neill Scottish Stroke Play title – 18 from France, 14 from Australia and eight from South Africa as an example – Porteous stole an early march on the field in the 72-hole event after a brilliant first-round eight-under-par 65.
With no wind whatsoever and the weather warming up as the day progressed over the superb links, Porteous played as if he was back home enjoying the sun.
Porteous eagled the par-5 1st to get off to a flyer and ended in style as well, with an eagle and a birdie in his last three holes.
The 17-year-old, already appearing destined for a big future in the game, is familiar with many of the Scottish players after the SGU National Men’s Squad visited the Rainbow Nation in the spring as part of their winter performance programme.
Porteous lost twice in a Test Match defeat to the visiting Scots and also watched Brian Soutar claim the South African Amateur title and Paul Shields earn a share of the Northern Amateur Open.
The Johannesburg player is therefore seeking an element of revenge and said: “It would be nice to win here, but it is early days.
“I just need to keep it going now. I came fourth at Auchterarder in the Scottish Under-16s Championship two years ago and I have happy memories of Scotland.
“We arrived here four days ago and we have only had one day of rain! To play links golf in good conditions makes it easier.”
Porteous holds an early two-shot advantage over Australian Brett Drewitt, a regular winner on the amateur circuit Down Under, with Frenchmen Clement Berardo and Adrien Monnier also on 67.
The trio are seeking to emulate their respective countrymen, with John Sutherland the only previous Australian winner of the event in 2001 and Romain Wattel, now impressing on the European Tour, triumphing for France two years ago.
On a day when the home players were largely put in the shade, Downfield’s Ross Bell flew the saltire proudly after a fine 68. The former Leven Gold Medal winner was joined on that mark late in the day by a local lad, Troon Welbeck’s Charlie Macneal, the 2010 Ayrshire Boys’ champion.
Even later, Dumfries & County's Greig Marchbank, the 2011 SGU Boys' Order of Merit winner, came through the field with three closing birdies to also post a 68.
Wallace Booth of Comrie was the last Scottish player to win the coveted title back in 2008, and Jamie Savage (Cawder), Scott Borrowman (Dollar) and Scott Stewart-Cation are also in the hunt after opening three-under-par 70s.
East Yorkshire’s Paul Lockwood (Hessle) leads the English bid after his 69.