Haydn Porteous fired a 64 in Turkey on Thursday. Photo: Turkish Airlines

ANTALYA, Turkey – Swashbuckling young South African golf professional Haydn Porteous blitzed Carya Golf Club with a seven-under-par 64 on Thursday to share the first-round lead with Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Dutchman Joost Luiten in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open.

“I started my round with three straight birdies, and you can’t ask for a better way to begin a tournament,” said the 23-year-old, who won the Czech Masters early in September, which he felt was a defining moment in his career.

That was his second European Tour triumph, following his 2015 Joburg Open win.

“But it’s one thing to win on home soil, and quite another thing to win internationally,” he explained, “and after that Joburg win, I struggled for about a year and a half thinking to myself, ‘Do I really belong out here?’

“Well, winning in the Czech Republic changed all that because now I know I belong, and I’m able to play with a lot more freedom and confidence, like today, which was just perfect.”

Porteous, who plays out of Country Club Johannesburg, started his round at the par-4 11th, a treacherous hole with water all down the left, but hit a perfect tee-shot followed by a gap wedge to eight feet and rolled in the putt.

That was the start of a bogey-free return with seven birdies in all on a tree-lined course. “I’m pretty proud of that because a lot can go wrong here if you’re not on your game,” he said.

There were also a couple of important par-saves, noticeably at the par-4 third hole – which is called “Dire Straits” because of all the trouble off the fairway.

And for a while Porteous could be forgiven for feeling he truly was in dire straits.

“I really smoked my drive there (he ‘smokes’ a lot of drives!), but unfortunately deep into the trees. We had trouble finding the ball and time was running out when my playing partner, David Drysdale, found it.”

Porteous was then able to hack out just short of the green, chip up to 10 feet and then hole the putt for an unlikely par to keep the momentum going.

The former SA amateur No 1 will make his debut in next week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge but, being 64th in the Race to Dubai, needs to move into the top 60 to qualify for the end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

“Hopefully, a good week here will sort Dubai out,” said Porteous, who is six ahead of compatriots Brandon Stone and Dylan Frittelli, who both shot 70.

Stone was four-under through 17 holes, but made a triple bogey seven at his final hole, the par-4 10th.

George Coetzee signed for a level-par 71, while Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester both struggled, carding five-over 76s.

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