Sun City - Haydn Porteous had a few minutes with Gary Player on the driving range in which he was given some advice for his game, and then went out and guided his team into the lead in the first round of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at The Lost City Golf Club on Saturday.
Porteous and his team of Olympic gold medal swimmer Roland Schoeman and businessmen Marco Saviozzi and Laurent Girouille finished the day with a four-stroke lead on 17-under par.
But they have Grand Slam champion Player and South African Olympic golfer Paula Reto and their respective teams chasing them on 13-under.
Before the round, the 22-year-old Porteous spent some time on the range with Player as he asked him to look at his swing and assist him with the mental side of his game. A few hours later and Porteous signed for an individual round of two-under-par 70, and then could only smile as behind him the 81-year-old Player matched that score.
“I watch Gary Player and he’s the most positive person I’ve ever met in my life. There’s a reason he looks the way he does at 81. I know he has exercised all of his life, but I think it’s also got to do with a strong mind making for a strong body. To get any advice from him is a treat and hopefully I can put that in play when it comes to my own game,” Porteous said.
Team Porteous certainly seemed inspired, especially on the par-five 18th where Schoeman made an impressive birdie to end a solid first day for them.
“It was a great day. To play golf with people like Roland and top businessmen from around the world is an unbelievable experience, and for me it’s great to able to learn from the experiences they’ve had in their lives.”
Porteous will be well aware of who is behind him, especially in the form of the Black Knight who is chasing a record third consecutive team victory in this annual charity tournament.
Former Springbok flyhalf Butch James, while pleased to be chasing the overall title as a member of Reto’s team only four strokes off the lead, is equally pleased to be leading his former teammate and captain John Smit in this tournament.
Smit is in the team of European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke and businessmen Gideon du Plessis and David Woollan who are six shots off the lead.
“I’m quite good at the recovery shots out of the bushes because I spend so much time there. Fortunately Paula is down the middle all the time. She was outstanding and really carried our team. But I’ll be glad to be able to put one over John in this tournament.”
The inspired golf followed the news that the tournament has raised more than R3 million for the two official charities – Wings and Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust.
Round 1 scores for the Gary Player
-17 Haydn Porteous, Roland Schoeman, Marco Saviozzi, Laurent Girouille
-13 Paula Reto, Butch James, Daniel Gavagnin, Phil Grindrod
-13 Gary Player, Andy Cole, Kelvin Balogun, Anthony Leeming
-11 Celine Herbin, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Daryl Bernhart
-11 Darren Clarke, John Smit, Gideon du Plessis, David Woollan
-3 Michael Campbell, Jimmy Tau, Stefanie Zinser, Steve Elford
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter and Instagram - #GOLFandGIVING.