09 Feb 2023 | Vic Open |
Porter rides out the nerves to lead Vic Open
by Martin Blake
Queenslander Cassie Porter was dealt the nerve-jangling prospect of a tournament round with two legends today, and the impressive young professional handled it with aplomb that makes her one of this country’s best prospects.
So much so that Porter, 20, from Peregian Beach, outplayed Karrie Webb and Jiyai Shin – winners of a combined nine women’s majors -- to take a share of the lead in the Vic Open after round one at 13th Beach Golf Links.
Porter, who has been in the Queensland and national high performance programs for some years, shot a bogey-free opening 66, 6-under par, on the Beach course despite begin drawn in the more difficult afternoon conditions when the southerly wind off the ocean made its belated arrival.
She made four birdies and a bomb for eagle on the par-5 fifth hole, and rolled in a testing two-metre par-saver at the last to hold her share of the lead.
She is tied in the lead with 28-year-old Thai player Pavarisa Yoktuan, a sometime LPGA Tour player who shot 6-under 67 on the Creek course, where the par is one higher at 73.
Shin, the winner of two women’s British Opens, shot 5-under 67 and Webb carded an opening 72, even-par, with two late birdies.
American Emma Talley, New Zealand amateur Fiona Xu, Japan’s Shina Kanazawa, Shin and another South Korean, Min A Yoon, are all at 5-under tied-third.
“I had so much fun out there,” Porter said afterward. With two former world No. 1s and major champions, what a group! I was so pumped last night. So it’s really nice to come and put a score on the board.
“I had nerves all day if I’m being honest, but it kind of worked for me. I used it to my advantage, I guess, and kept on top of everything which is nice.
Porter turned professional last December and has moved seamlessly into the professional life, winning her first pro tournament at Latrobe earlier this season.
Ever-smiling on the course and off, she is headed to the United States in a few weeks to play the Epson Tour in 2023 with hopes of graduating to the LPGA Tour beyond that.
Most impressively, she keeps a firm hold on perspective. “You can’t win a tournament on the first day,” she said. “You go out and today’s another day on the golf course. I had really cool company. I just switch off and tomorrow’s another day. I’m pretty lucky. I mean, this is my workplace.”
There are plenty of Australians in the mix, including last week’s TPS Murray winner Sarah Jane Smith and Sydney’s Grace Kim, who played in the same group on the Creek course and both shot 4-under 69s.
Smith is back on familiar territory having spent her childhood on the Bellarine Peninsula, but her preparation was not ideal as the mother of three-year-old Theo. “It was a slow start but we had a rough night,” she said. “Theo had a bad fever and I was covered in sick. I had a rough night’s sleep but I’m happy with the way today went.”
Smith said she had managed to move back into tournament mode despite the gravity of her victory last weekend, her first in 15 years. “It was busy,” she said. “The last time I won, 15 years ago, there was no social media. That was a whole thing I had to deal with and there were a lot of messages, but nothing I’d complain about. It was really special.”
TPS Victoria winner Min A Yoon from South Korea opened with a 5-under 68 to enhance her chances of another win. Yoon, 20, has been coming to Australia to play junior golf for some years and her comfort levels are high having won numerous junior tournaments here including a Port Phillip Amateur.
“I have good memories of playing here,” she said. “I am not afraid of the wind when it comes.
“I feel like I’m at home in Australia because from 14 years old I have played here, and I won some junior tournaments.”
Join our newsletter
Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.