Justin Walters shot 68 at Zhailjau Golf Resort on Thursday, claiming a first-round hold on tied 15th at the Kazakhstan Open, which is the richest event on the Challenge Tour schedule.
WaltersÂ finished four below the card, setting up for a good result at the Â400,000 tournament. And should he take a top-10 in Kazakhstan he will be well on his way to a 2013 European Tour card, which is awarded to this seasonÂs top 20 Challenge Tour players.
Every Challenge Tour player is hunting prize money in order to qualify for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, which is just six tournaments away. The top 45 on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit will earn their place, and the best way is to perform in Kazakhstan.
Despite how crucial a good result is, Walters looked calm as he cruised round in 68 blows. His first nine worked in threes, starting with a birdie at the third. He followed it up with further birdies at six and nine to turn at three-under.
A pair of birdies at 12 and 13 would insure his opening round and his only bogey of the day, which came the 17th, did little to hamper his position on the leaderboard. With seven top-10 finishes to his name this season, Walters is ready to claim his share of the Kazakhstan pie, and his opening 68 has paved the way.
The scoring opportunities are there at Shailjau, and the 31-year-old must chase down leader Peter Uhlein, who shot an incredible 63 on Thursday.
Following Uhlein were Sunshine Tour visitor Seve Benson and DenmarkÂs Lasse Jensen, who both reached the clubhouse in 65 strokes to finish two off the pace.
Tyrone Ferreira had a forgettable day, shooting five-over and essentially eliminating himself from the running. He currently shares 131st and will need to produce real magic on Friday if he wants any chance of making it to the weekend.