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Euan Walker had a tough start to life in the paid ranks, but a stunning birdie-birdie finish at the weekend saw him win his first Challenge Tour title.

The 27-year-old won the British Challenge presented by Modest! Golf Management, putting him in a strong position to claim playing rights on the main tour next year.

It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing for the Scot, however, with his start to life as a professional heavily disrupted by the pandemic. 

For Walker, the last two years involved a lot of waiting as a reserve for Challenge Tour events, often not getting in to the field, something he admitted he struggled with.

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“I kind of stalled a little bit during Covid,” he said. “We didn’t play, I didn’t get the opportunity to practice as much and, when I came back, things were a lot different.

“The whole situation – travelling, being in hotels. It was challenging to do that, having never experienced life as a professional before and you think, ‘Is this what being a professional golfer is like? Because it’s not that much fun and I kind of expected to be enjoying myself a lot more.’

“I think you are in that frame of mind, the influences beyond my control kind of negatively affected my performances, although I did my utmost to still try and perform well.”

For Walker, a combination of more regular starts and a big team of coaches led to better play, culminating in a win at St Mellion last week.

“It wasn’t until I got to the 17th green that I actually realised I was just one shot behind the lead after JC Ritchie finished bogey-bogey. I had a medium-range birdie putt and thought, ‘I’m still right in this tournament.’

“I went ahead and holed that putt and didn’t feel any pressure over it as I was coming from behind and it was just an opportunity for me.

“But coming down the last in a three-way tie for the lead, I was thinking it could end in a play-off and, though I know it’s a very challenging hole, I just had to go for it and play to make birdie.

“I hit a beautiful drive and had to take on the approach. Yeah, I hit it absolutely perfectly and there were lots of other shots on Sunday that I didn’t hit perfectly. But, when it really mattered, I hit that one perfectly.

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“I was so nervous over the putt that I almost couldn’t hold the putter, couldn’t make a stroke! I was like, ‘I’ve just got to get this over with’ and it was amazing.”

On a different day, he continued, that 9-iron on the final hole might have warranted a more conservative approach, but with the chance to win the event outright, that wasn’t in his thoughts. 

“I was trying to hit it in close. I’ve got the cover of the water so it was always going to carry the water if I hit it well enough. If I’d overdrawn it, it wouldn’t have been a great position but I thought, ‘I’ve just got to take it on.’ 

“Different shot, different situation, I probably see it differently. I just didn’t think, I wasn’t trying to hit it safe and two-putt for a play-off, I wanted to try my best to make birdie and win outright.”

There’s no time for big celebrations just yet, though, with Walker hoping to wrap up the best possible status for next year. The victory bumped him up to 20th on the Challenge Tour rankings, with the top-20 sealing a DP World Tour card for next season. If that doesn’t come to fruition, it will be a trip to Q School for the former Scottish international.

“I’ve given myself a chance I never thought I was going to have in the earlier part of the season and I just want to make the most of that opportunity,” he continued. 

“It was a great time to win and a great event to win because the prize fund is slightly bigger. It was brilliant.

“Everybody has got a reason to play well at this time of the season and everybody is pushing for something. Whether that’s to make the top 20, to make the top 40, to make the top 75 to keep their status on the Challenge Tour. It just feels a bit more real.”

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Walker’s win adds to what has already been an impressive season for Scots on the European circuits, with many of Walker’s peers making a name for themselves on the big stage. That, he said, only motivated him further to get into the winner’s circle.

“Obviously growing up playing a lot of golf with these guys, you do feel that is something I could hope to achieve as well. Yeah, it does motivate you.

“I think to see some of your friends succeed at the very highest level in golf, when you are growing up that’s something you are dreaming of but it kind of seems a bit unattainable.

“But you gradually keep practising, keep getting closer and closer and, when you see your friends achieve stuff like that, you think, ‘well, it is achievable’.

“I’m not saying that everybody in my position is going to achieve that, but, if you do everything the best you can, you give yourself the best opportunity you can to have that success and I think that’s what I’ve tried to do in the last couple of years.”

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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