Mayo’s Porter expects to be the best
By Jason Feldman
Winning a state golf championship isn’t a goal for Jeff Porter.
"I’d say it’s more of an expectation I have for myself," the Rochester Mayo senior said.
And who’s to second-guess him?
He finished fourth at the Class AA state meet last June, making up a five-shot deficit on the leader and entering the final hole of the two-day meet in a tie for first place.
Porter got a taste of two more big-time tournaments in July — one as a player, one as a caddie.
He played in the prestigious Optimist International Championship, one of the top junior events in the world. Porter was in 12th place after two rounds and ended up 24th in a field of 186 golfers.
"Just the experience of having been there will help me," he said. "It’s pretty nerve-racking. You have sign boys walking with you on the last day … it feels like a pro event."
He also caddied for three days worth of practice rounds at the Nationwide Tour’s Scholarship America Showdown. He was on the bag of Brock Mackenzie, a three-time NCAA All-American at the University of Washington and a member of the 2003 U.S. Walker Cup team.
Porter started his golfing career in Florida, where he lived during his freshman and sophomore years. His ninth-grade season was "really my first year playing golf," he said. As a sophomore, he won a conference championship, then played during the summer months on the competitive Florida Junior Tour.
"That gave me a lot of good experience against some great competition," Porter said.
Last year, his first on the Mayo varsity, Porter shot 74-75—149 at the Section 1AA meet to qualify for state. He said qualifying for the Minnesota state tournament and playing in it was as much of a pressure situation as any of the other big tournaments he’s played in.
He shot an opening-round 74 at state to rest in eighth place. He followed that with his second-day charge toward the top spot, only to come up three shots short of a title.
"High school golf might be deeper in Florida," he said, "but pressure-wise this is a tough state tournament with a lot of good players. It’s still a state tournament, and there are still butterflies."
It didn’t take Porter long to get rid of those butterflies, either.
"It helps when you hit your first tee shot right down the middle and birdie the first hole," he said.
Porter hopes to bring teammates along to state with him this year.
Mayo was a young team a year ago, but players such as juniors Ty Moessner and Brock Case received plenty of valuable experience.
"Last year was a growing season, everyone was getting better," Case said. "I learned how to keep my composure and if you have a bad hole, you have to get over it right away."
Moessner agreed. Last year was the first time he had played in a section tournament, and with that experience under his belt he said he hopes to play into the second day of the section tourney this year.
"It was a learning experience. We learned how to stay strong mentally. We’d like to get to the second day of sections, if not the state meet," he said
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