Porter Wins 75th SCGA Amateur Championship
Jim Porter combined his power and distance off the tee with a Midas touch on the greens, to win the 75th Southern California Amateur Golf Championship over Ted Richards on the fourth extra hole in a sudden death playoff at Brentwood Country Club.
Porter and Richards had tied at three-over par 293 after the regulation 72-hole final, which was extended this year from the usual 36 holes in previous tournament finals. It was the first extra-hole match in the Amateur since Johnny Jacobs needed three to beat Kemp Richardson in 1966 at Victoria.
Although he bogeyed three of the first four holes, the 22-year-old Porter put on a remarkable putting exhibition, sinking a 45-footer on the 13th hole to pull even with Richards and pass early leader Lee Davis, who saw a three-stroke lead disappear with four straight bogeys mid-way in the round.
Thinking back on his finest hour, Porter recalled:
"On the 11th hole, I made a six-footer to save par and put me within one stroke of the lead. At No. 14, I made a 45-50-footer for a birdie; I never make those. If I make a 20-footer, I'm happy.
"At No. 16, I made a 60-footer right after Ted missed one from about 62 feet. He lagged his up to within about a foot and I thought it was a super putt. But I hit mine right in the center of the cup.
"In the playoff, we both parred the first hole, and on the second hole, I hit a bad putt 10 feet past the hole. But coming back, the ball caught the lip and barely fell in. Richards couldn't believe it when I made that one."
On the last two holes of the playoff, Porter hit two of his longest drives ever, outdriving Richards by 50-60 yards on the final hole. Porter reached the 441-yard par 4 in two, while the 51-year-old Richards bunkered his second shot and required two to get out. Porter routinely two-putted for his par.
At UCLA, Porter started as No. 2 man in his freshman year, slipped as low as No. 5, then climbed the ladder to No. 1 for both his junior and senior year. Although he didn't win any significant collegiate tournaments, Porter is proud of his third-place finish at the Far Western Intercollegiate and noted that it was his "most satisfying" tournament.
Porter, who currently plays out of Red Hill Country Club near his home in Claremont, California, first took up golf at the age of 11, and entered his first competition that same year. By the time high school rolled around, he was already good enough to play first man for all four years prior to enrolling at UCLA, where he is currently finishing up his last semester on his B.A. in political science.
"When I first came to school, I wasn't looking forward to playing that much golf or making a career of it," said Porter. "But spending all that time in school didn't convince me to be a doctor or lawyer. It seems like you can't do anything anymore without a Ph.D., and I'm not that much of a student."
Looking toward his future, Porter hasn't made any definite commitments about turning pro, but admits that it's almost impossible financially to survive on the amateur circuit.
"The tour is just like anything else you have to take it in stride," noted Porter. "A lot of guys get all wound up with the idea that they're out there playing for the big bucks. Big deal! I feel I go out to shoot the best golf I can; I feel like I can win. But if I don't play well... fine.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'd like to play amateur golf for the rest of my life. But you can't, it's just too expensive. I think it's a lot more prestigious in many ways than trying to go out there and make a buck. I play the game because I love it, and I think everyone else does too. I want to stay in the game as long as I can, and I'd love to play on the Walker Club team. That would be the height of success for me. That means so much more to most people than making a dollar on the tour, and I think it should.
"But no matter what I do or try to do, I just feel I'm going to be a success at it."
Porter will have his work cut out for him in more ways than just one, when he adds marriage to his golf career this coming December. Projecting how that domestic challenge will affect his golf game, the easy-going blond-haired Porter said:
"I'm not that outgoing of a person when it comes right down to it. I like to stay at home and be with people I know. Everything is better when I'm around people I enjoy being with. I figure it will calm me down, keep me loose, and make me a better player all around."