Garrick Porteous will have the best of everything when he tees off in the Open at Muirfield today.
His caddy will be carrying a TaylorMade special Open edition tour bag for his RocketBladez tour irons and he’ll have an endless supply of golf balls, although hopefully he’ll won’t need too many in the tournament.
Then there’s the Smokey the Dog head cover for his driver, the only club in his bag which does not have a TaylorMade head cover.
Smokey the Dog is the mascot of the University of Tennessee, where Porteous was the team captain of the golf squad. Porteous will be dressed head to toe in new adidas clothes and golf shoes – but there are some vital pieces of equipment which won’t be on display at Muirfield.
Every morning, Porteous spends between an hour and 90 minutes working out in the gym and when he’s at home he uses a gym constructed in the garage at his home in Morpeth.
“The main benefit of the gym work is that is that I can achieve more power through rotation,” he said.
“I drive the ball 295 yards and it’s not a question of how far but how straight. The key exercises I do are stretches to increase my core stability so that whatever power I generate is controlled.
“Let’s hope it all pays off in the Open.”
Added to his two practice rounds this week, Porteous played Muirfield a fortnight ago and he shares the commonly held view that it is the fairest course on the Open rota.
Muirfield has been graced by a list of champions that reads like a Who’s Who of the game, from Sir Henry Cotton to Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus to Lee Trevino and Watson to Nick Faldo.
Reigning Open champion Ernie Els won there in 2002 after a last-minute swing change worked into his game during a coaching session with David Leadbetter.
Nicklaus liked Muirfield so much he rated it the best in Britain and named his own course in Ohio in its honour. Porteous, a talented photographer and sketch artist, began his preparations for the Open two weeks ago with a practice round at Muirfield, where he pinpointed four holes to write about for The Journal, also taking pictures of them.
After a five-day tournament for England last week – he had a 6&0 record as his country won the European Team Championships – he eased up on his schedule for his Open practice days at Muirfield yesterday and on Tuesday. “I did not want to overdo it and I have taken care to keep myself fresh for the tournament,” he said.
On Tuesday he practised with Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard over a full round. Yesterday he played nine holes in the morning with Yorkshire pro Danny Willett.
The lead coach for England, Graham Walker, who is also the personal coach of both players, walked the course with them. Porteous rounded off yesterday’s work with some chipping and putting practice before lunchtime.
“I was on the practice green at the same time as Tiger Woods,” he said. “He had this massive personal entourage round him and the fans were milling round in huge numbers.
“I did not say hello to him because I did not think it would be right to do that, but I did watch some of his putting. All the fuss and attention round him did not bother me really, I just got on with my job. Yes, it is a fair target for me to try to win the Silver Medal for the leading amateur in the Open, bearing in mind I have won The Amateur Championship.
“But I am not particularly looking at it like that, I just want to go out and play the best golf I can.
“I don’t feel overawed or nervous and I definitely do not feel out of place here or overshadowed in any way.
“It’s the Open, it’s great to be competing in it and I feel relaxed and ready.
“The practice sessions went fine and I seem to be hitting my shots OK. Let’s get out there now and see what happens.”
Porteous goes into the Open with this tribute from Tom Rowland, a Prudhoe golfer and a conference winner on the US college circuit.
Rowland, who yesterday was helping out at De Vere Slaley Hall with the Graeme Douglas Memorial Tournament, said: “Garrick is a huge inspiration to me and a lot of other young golfers in the North East.
“It shows what the potential is if, like Garrick, we put the work into our golf. He’s the perfect role model.”