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Déjà vu for emotional Walters in Vilamoura
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Déjà vu for emotional Walters in Vilamoura

Justin Walters found himself fighting back tears for the second time at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course as he secured his playing privileges at the Portugal Masters.

Justin Walters

He arrived at this event in 2013 under a personal cloud having lost his mother just weeks earlier and with the pressure of knowing he needed an exceptional week to keep his card.

The South African was faced with a 60 foot putt on the 72nd hole for par and solo second and he made it, prompting an emotional celebration as his place on Tour was secured.

Fast forward seven years and Walters arrived in Portugal 121st in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex after another testing season both on and off the course.

The 39-year-old was struggling with injury in the summer and then sadly lost his father in August, admitting he struggled to cope in the events afterwards.

"It’s about finding a bit of perspective after the loss of my dad," he said. "I just felt lost, I was trying to get too much out of the game and looking at that to solve my problems and issues."

An opening 63 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship showed that his game was still there, and a closing 65 at the Italian Open handed him a top ten in a Rolex Series event and gave him a fighting chance to keep his card.

Needing to finish in the top 115 on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex at the end of the week in Vilamoura, he laid an excellent foundation with an opening 65 and rarely looked like falling back as he followed it with rounds of 66 and 71.

He was in a tie for the lead with three to play on Sunday and while he could not claim a first European Tour victory, a closing 66 meant he was second again and up to 79th in the season long standings.

"It’s very satisfying just after what we’ve been through," he said. 

"I think yesterday I went through the hardest part. I felt vulnerable for the first time all week. 

"Aside from a few putting problems, I did alright. I kept telling myself to keep doing the same stuff. I putted really well today. I left it all out there."

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