Ahead of the Portugal Masters, Haydn Porteous writes about his life-changing second win, dealing with nerves, Kaizen philosophy and how the South African braai is the world’s greatest cuisine.
Life on Tour is great, but it can be hard. Outside of the nice hotels and great golf courses, inside the ropes at tournaments, it’s a battle. Everyone on Tour was the best player in their hometown and as a kid but out here you live and die by your results. I love traveling the world and seeing some amazing places but the one thing that everyone really wants is, of course, to win.
Getting my second title at the Czech Masters was a huge moment for me. I felt some serious pressure heading into the last 12 weeks of the season. I needed to have a good finish and made a small first step by getting through the first round at the Paul Lawrie Match Play which helped me a little bit in terms of getting a pay cheque and kick-starting the bid to keep my card. It was a small first victory. The next week I played Denmark and got my first top ten of the season and started to feel the confidence begin to return. Next up was Czech…
I love Prague.
The first time I ever went to Prague was three years ago and it was really the first European city that I fell in love with. The nightlife, the architecture, the food; it’s a got a great vibe. So with my golf game coming back and returning to that city, it was always shaping up to be a good week – and so it proved.
To get my second win, on European soil, was important.
Not to take away anything from the South African European Tour events, because they are great events, but it is the golf I have grown up playing, it is the golf I have played lots of on the Sunshine Tour. The last year and a half I have really felt out of my comfort zone, learning different conditions, learning different grasses and that takes time. It takes time and effort to become a well-rounded player.
I’ve decided it’s okay to get nervous.
Of course I was nervous on that final day in Prague. I believe there are two different types of nervousness: One, a bad nervous, a destructive nervous, or two, a good nervous that makes you think about things a lot more clearly. It can be a positive influence. It can help you stick to the process, drive you on, help you stick to your plan better simply because you know how much it means and because it is forcing you into that zone.
‘Coming in hot’ was the phrase I used a lot ahead of this final stretch.
I’ve made a good start to that claim and that means a reassessment of short-term goals. I have a whole new set of goals. Now my goal is top 60, the DP World Tour Championship, but by the end of this week it could be top 30. Everything can change in golf in four days.
You are your own boss in golf.
If you don’t feel like you are working hard enough then you need to start working hard enough. Sometimes it can be quite hard to look at yourself in the mirror and ask “are you practicing hard enough?” The fight between work and rest is constant. You can guilt trip yourself a lot. You see other guys on the putting green, hitting balls for hours but you can’t base everything on how other people work. The last few weeks I’ve almost re-found myself, gone back to the things I did when I was a kid, the things that helped me get on this Tour in the first place. When I first came on Tour, I saw the other guys and it made me question my methods. You see the coaches, you see the weird and wonderful techniques and equipment and drills. Everybody can fall victim to it but it’s part of the learning process. It’s about being confident in yourself and doing it on your own terms.
I try to follow Kaizen philosophy.
It’s continuous progression of yourself. It’s trying to do something better every day. I write in a book now my tasks and goals each day, whether that’s ‘Go to the gym’ or whatever. You have a lot of white noise in your head and it helps provide some clarity. Whether it be for five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, it doesn’t matter, just get to the gym. It’s not about being rigid with your structures but it’s just searching for that one per cent improvement. What will make the feel better or do better than yesterday? If you can hit one per cent each day, that is 365 per cent over the course of a year. In whatever it is you’re trying to do.
It’s easy to work hard when you are playing well.
It’s when you’re playing badly that it’s hard to peel yourself off that bed, get yourself onto that range and fight like a dog for where you want to be. You have to want it enough.
In life there are always going to be pros and cons to everything.
You can look at things from a completely different perspective to someone else. People look at all the travel we do on the European Tour and say: “I don’t know how you do it, so many weeks on the spin, I can only do two or three?” But if you said to someone who had never travelled before that they could travel around the world for 12 weeks, look at beautiful places, experience different cultures, they would bite your arm off. They would do anything for that. So make sure you consider those different perspectives and go out and enjoy these places.
That’s what I try to do. Go and see the city, go out and have a beer with your mates, go embrace it. This week it’s eating a nice dinner in the marina by the sea. I’m from Joburg, there is no sea anywhere near us so this is something different! We go to Asia, Europe, the Middle East. You see some of the history, the wars these places have been through, the different lives of the people who live there. If you open your eyes, you start to see how beautiful this world really is.
It’s nice to have some banter with other South African sportsmen.
Me and KP (Kevin Pietersen) go back and forth a bit, I’ve got to know our Olympic gold medallist swimmer Roland Schoeman and I have a good relationship with the other South Africans out on Tour, too. We get along, we are from the same place, have played the same golf courses, have a lot of common interests. South Africans are a good bunch of boys. We know how to work hard but we also know how to enjoy ourselves away from the sport. The talk at the dinner table is great. We know how to have a laugh.
I played a lot of cricket and football growing up. As well as provincial golf, I also played provincial level in those two sports, too. The SA fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was at my school. But golf was always really the sport for me. I found that out pretty fast…
I love my cars. I’ve always been a big fan of BMWs, I love them, and have a beautiful BMW M4 now that I have tricked up a bit. I have my eye on a car that is coming out in 2019 but I want to keep that card close to my chest until the boy gets it from the box all wrapped up for him! Driving is one of the things that I miss the most when I am away from home. The freedom to go wherever you want to go, do whatever you want to do.
As a good South African my favourite sort of food is of course from the braai. Steaks, pork chops, boerewors, a bit of braai potato. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it! I miss the good old traditional braai when I’m away from South Africa. You can have a barbecue but it doesn’t really feel the same unless you are at home in your slops, without a t-shirt, with my braai tongs in one hand and a beer in the other. You can’t beat it.
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