Porteous relishing prospect of Open Championship

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NEWLY-CROWNED Amateur champion Garrick Porteous is relishing the prospect of an Open Championship appearance almost on his own doorstep.

The Bamburgh Castle player secured a spot at Muirfield with his 6 and 5 victory over Finland’s Toni Hakula in Saturday’s 36-hole final at Royal Cinque Ports.

“I think it will hit me next week when I realise I will be playing in The Open,” said the 23-year-old after becoming the first Englishman to win the amateur game’s blue-riband event since Gary Wolstenholme a decade ago.

“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.”

Having also won the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Southerness last month, Porteous has surely sealed his place in the Great Britain & Ireland team that will defend the Walker Cup later this year.

“It’s quite a surreal feeling right now,” he added after also securing invitations to next year’s Masters and US Open.

“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.”

As winds gusted up to 40mph on the Kent coast, Hakula won the opening hole but was soon fighting a losing battle after finding himself four down at the turn.

“It hurts to lose and I feel like I didn’t play as well as I could, even though the weather was tough,” admitted the runner-up afterwards.