One shot behind UK winner David Lynn, South African golfer Justin Walters has finished second on 17 under par in the Portugal Masters European Tour.
Following a stellar second round eight under par 63, South African golfer Justin Walters finished second on 17 under par, one shot behind UK winner David Lynn in the Portugal Masters European Tour event, in Algarve, Portugal, on Sunday.
Walters compiled a final round 66 to finish on a 267 total for the week.
The finish meant with earnings of around €222 000 for the event, Walters would jump from 126th on the order of merit to around 70th and secure his playing privileges for next season.
Coming into the tournament, the pressure was on Walters to put together a good finish to move inside the top 125 to secure his card for the 2014 season.
His previous highest ever paycheque in Europe was a shade over €32 000, and the payday would have come as a welcome relief.
Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Walters blocked his drive right into a fairway bunker on the final hole. Faced with a shot near the lip, Walters' hopes of making a playoff were dashed as he could not go for the green with his second. Despite taking a big swing with a lofted club, he could not even reach the fairway from the bunker. He managed to find the putting surface with his third, but some 50 feet away from the pin.
But, the South African – whose mother had died two weeks prior – stepped up to ram the ball into the hole to finish in style as he broke down with emotion after the putt dropped.
Challenge for the win
Coming down the stretch, Walters made a strong challenge for the win with three birdies in a row starting on the 14th.
On the par five 17th, Walters hit a big drive off the tee and needed just an iron to reach the putting surface in two. His well-struck shot, however, did not hold the green and finished in a precarious position in the rough above the hole.
The 32-year-old, however showed good touch as he opened the face of the wedge on his chip shot, and nestled the ball to within a few feet of the hole. Walters made no mistake with the birdie effort as he poured the putt into the back of the hole for four birdies in a row, and to march to the 18th hole tee one shot behind clubhouse leader Lynn.
Walters had secured his card for the 2013 season through the demanding Challenge Tour in Europe. The Challenge tour – the secondary tour in Europe – provides 20 cards for the main European tour, via the season-long moneylist. Walters was outside the top 20 coming into the final event of the season in Italy, and needed a good finish to get his card, but scraped in on the last day to earn his card.
Walters also has bad vision. When he was four years old, Walters suffered a traumatic eye injury where a pine needle pierced his eye. He has reduced sight in his right eye and often suffers on the course. – Sapa