There is no question of Garrick Porteous resorting to bravado when he says all is not lost – despite an opening round of five-over 76 suggesting he will not be around at the weekend of his first Open Championship.
Quite apart from this being alien to his nature, the quietly spoken 23-year-old from Northumberland can draw on the early stages of this season’s British Amateur Championship.
The first round of strokeplay qualifying brought him an even higher number, 77.
In the second round, he signed for 69 and went on to storm the matchplay stages and win the championship – qualifying not only for the Open but also next season’s Masters and US Open. Playing alongside Martin Kaymer and Jason Day and cheered on by a vociferous contingent from the North East at Muirfield, Porteous was the only player in his group to find the fairway off the first tee and also to hit the green in two. He parred the first two holes so comfortably each brought him birdie putt opportunities.
When his first birdie did arrive at the third, it left both Kaymer, a former world No 1, and Day, who has been a runner-up in three majors, behind Porteous on the leader board.
Porteous struck a four iron a bit further than he intended but the sweetest of wedges from 70 yards, hit deliberately slightly right, was followed by a 12-foot putt.
Porteous has one of the most rhythmic swings seen from a North East golfer – the sweetest of tempos – yet if he was delighted with his start, his expression did not show it.
There had been nothing in his demeanour in the last few minutes before he teed off to suggest he was even faintly nervous, but he admitted afterwards there are “always a few butterflies.”
Clearly he could make a living playing poker.
However, a double bogey followed at four and, on Muirfield’s mean, hard-baked greens and helter-skelter approaches, Porteous bogeyed seven and nine and shipped another double bogey at 11 followed by a bogey at 12 to go six over.
He closed out with five pars and a birdie at 14, where he hit a magnificent approach to three feet.
This suggested better things may lie ahead when he tees off at lunchtime in today’s second round. Imperious off the tee, the only fairway Porteous missed was with a hybrid at the 11th, where he took his second double bogey.
He was not alone in the field in finding problems with greens and surrounds so hard they were as he put it, “about to become concrete before too long,” adding: “I have never known links greens this firm before.”
Hopefully, there will be better pin positions today with the greens well watered.
Even so, Porteous conceded: “I think I may need to be a little less aggressive in my approach play to the greens and also hope I get a few more breaks.
“I left myself short-sided a few times and tried to push it a little too hard but I still enjoyed it out there.”