Garrick Porteous was crowned as the 2013 Amateur Champion at Royal Cinque Ports today after he defeated Finland’s Toni Hakula 6&5 in the 36-hole Final.
The 23-year-old became the first English winner of The Amateur Championship since Gary Wolstenholme in 2003 and staked a very strong claim for a place in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team this September by winning one of the amateur game’s most prestigious championships.
After losing the 1st hole of the morning round, Porteous surged into a four-hole lead against his 21-year-old opponent on the front nine and was never again behind in the Final as both players battled through winds gusting up to 40mph.
By winning The Amateur, the Bamburgh Castle Player has secured a place in The Open Championship at Muirfield next month as well as a place in next year’s US Open at Pinehurst and a traditional invitation to the Masters in April.
A delighted Porteous said, “It’s quite a surreal feeling right now. I know there are a lot of famous names on that trophy. To be alongside them is pretty humbling. I felt confident coming into the week but I never got ahead of myself. I just played one shot at a time and it worked.
“I think it will hit me next week when I realise I will be playing in The Open. It is just over an hour away from my house so there will be a lot of local fans coming out to watch. I played Muirfield four years ago in The Amateur and it will feel pretty special to tee it up there in The Open.”
Hakula, who will go into his senior year studying economics at the University of Texas in August, said, “It hurts to lose and I feel like I didn’t play as well as I could even though the weather was tough. We both hit a lot of errant shots to start with and a lot of bogeys were winning holes but to be honest I missed a lot of short ones in the morning and it was tough to get back ahead.
“If somebody had given me a pass to the Final at the start of the week I would have paid $10,000 for it! Hopefully I can come back next year and go one step better.”
Although Hakula got off to a good start, winning with a par at the 1st, it was Porteous who adapted better to the inclement weather and he began to assert his dominance, winning four holes on the bounce from the 6th with pars. Leading 4up at the turn gave the University of Tennessee graduate an important cushion for the challenging back nine playing into the wind.
Hakula fought back to win the 10th hole after his rival hooked his drive off the tee and lost his ball. He went on to win the 12th and then holed a 15ft putt to win the 15th. The 16th hole was a struggle for both players with Porteous losing his second shot in thick rough and Hakula hitting a spectator but the Finn rolled in a 20ft putt to win the hole and reduce the deficit to one hole.
Porteous stopped the rot by holing from 15ft to win the 17th and then the 18th after Hakula found the thick rough on the left from the tee.
Starting the afternoon round with a three-hole cushion, Porteous slipped up at the 20th hole but a par at the 21st was enough to restore his lead. A birdie at the 23rd after he got up and down from just off the green, took Porteous to 4up and there was no way back for the Finn.
A birdie on the 28th hole took Porteous to 5up and, although Hakula took the next with a birdie three, the Englishman was in control and a bogey on the 31st was enough to seal a 6&5 victory.