Justin Walters makes a habit of retaining his European Tour card in the most dramatic way possible, and he is set for another cliff-hanger this week after his opening round of level-par 71 in the Portugal Masters at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, Portugal.
That put him in a share of 51st, and, with three rounds to play, he is projected to drop to 108th on the Race to Dubai rankings. With 122 players currently projected to retain their cards, Walters might not need a dramatic 20-metre putt to retain his playing privileges, but he will want to finish well to get himself into as many tournaments as possible next season.
He made four birdies and four bogeys in his opening round, and that put him a long way back of the runaway first-round leader, Nino Bertasio of Italy. Bertasio had a bogey-free 10-under 61 to lead by four from Adri Arnaus of Spain.
George Coetzee was the best of the South Africans in the field with his one-under 70 putting him in a share of 31st. Things are also tight for Coetzee on the Race to Dubai rankings, as he is projected to drop to 103rd from his current position.
James Hart du Preez opened with a one-over 72 for a share of 65th, with Zander Lombard a shot further back in a share of 82nd. Haydn Porteous was on four-over.