Haydn Porteous claims two-shot victory at Czech Masters
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 03/09/17 6:04pm
Haydn Porteous recovered from a mid-round stutter to claim his second European Tour title after a hard-fought duel with Lee Slattery at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
Slattery led by one shot with five holes to play at Albatross Golf Resort, but he made a crucial mistake at the 15th after Porteous had birdied 14, and the South African held his nerve to close out a 69 for a two-stroke victory.
The win represented a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the 23-year-old, who missed the cut in eight of his last 10 events of last season and then failed to make the weekend in his first six starts of the 2017 campaign.
But the hard work he put in on the range began to show in Denmark last week as he recorded his first top-10 finish in a strokeplay event for over 18 months, and Porteous maintained his form in Prague to pocket the first prize of 166,660euros.
"It's been a really torrid time through the last eight or nine months and I've really started doing the right things and slowly but surely the golf has got a little bit better," said a relieved Porteous. "To get my second European Tour win under the belt just feels amazing.
"When you start playing on the European Tour you start to lose yourself, you lose how you got out here in the first place and to then find yourself again and do the things you do to normally get on the Tour is key.
"It's just one tournament at a time, one shot at a time and just make sure I do the right things and be professional in the way I do everything. I'm sure this evening's probably not going to be the most professional moment of my life but there's nothing wrong with having a bit of celebration."
Porteous began the final day two behind the Englishman, but he wiped out the deficit with birdies at the opening two holes before a bogey at the fourth handed the outright lead back to Slattery, who did well to maintain his focus during the week with his wife more than a week overdue with the couple's second child.
The overnight leader responded to a Porteous birdie at the sixth with his first gain on the day at the short seventh, although he then bogeyed the next and found himself one shot back at the turn when he was unable to match Porteous' four at the ninth.
Both players then ran up scrappy sixes at 10 and Porteous blotted his card again at the next, while Slattery edged his nose back in front when he made his third birdie of the week at the short 13th.
But the tournament swung back in the South African's favour once more when he made his fifth birdie of the round at the 14th and Slattery erred again at the next, and Porteous then piled on the pressure with a stunning tee-shot to inside two feet at 16.
However, Slattery was up to the challenge and carded his third two of the day with a nerveless putt from eight feet but, after both parred the penultimate hole, Slattery tugged his approach into the greenside rough at the last with Porteous on the putting surface but 40 feet right of the target.
Slattery paid the price for short-siding himself as his pitch trundled 20 feet beyond the pin and shaved the hole with his par-saving attempt, while Porteous calmly lagged his tricky putt to 18 inches and tapped in for his first victory since last year's Joburg Open.
Slattery's 73 was enough to claim outright second on 11 under and should secure his card for next season, while his compatriot Tom Lewis raced into a share of third after he closed with a flawless five-birdie 67 - the best round of the day and one of only 13 sub-70 scores.
Lewis finished three off the pace along with Sweden's Pontus Widegren, while Eddie Pepperell also kept a bogey off his card in a creditable 68 which lifted him to eight under alongside James Morrison, Oscar Lengden and Jason Scrivener.
Lee Westwood made a late charge with three birdies and an eagle in a classy seven-hole stretch after the turn, although a bogey at 17 dropped him to seven under par.