Watched for a bit by Hans Peter-Porsche, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Euan Walker reckoned he’d actually been spluttering somewhat in the third round at Club de Golf Alcanada overlooking Alcudia Bay.
Not, though, when the Troon man produced the shot of the day as he made a timely hole-in-one with a 5-iron from 205 yards at the 17th and, in a pressure-packed event, it’s been so far, so good for Walker as he bids to make the step up to the DP World Tour next season.
On a day when his position went up and down like a yo-yo, the sole Scot in the 45-man field was 20th in the projected positions after that ace but dropped to 21st, where he started the week, after a bogey at the last.
Signing for a 70, Walker sits joint-eighth on three-under, four shots off the lead, shared by Englishman Nathan Kimsey and South African Bryce Easton, and it will be job done if he can produce his best stuff in the closing circuit.
“I’ve given myself a chance,” said Walker, who turned professional straight after playing in the 2019 Walker Cup only to find himself starting out his new career in a Covid-hit world and, by his own admission, find it a difficult environment.
Even in the opening half of the current campaign, the former African Amateur champion was still struggling to make headway on the second-tier circuit before getting the confidence boost he was looking for when winning the British Challenge at St Mellion in Cornwall in the penultimate regular event of the season.
“One more day and I’ve just got to go out and do the best I can,” added Walker, who is bidding to continue a run of Scottish success that has seen Bob MacIntyre, Ewen Ferguson, Grant Forrest, David Law, Connor Syme and Calum Hill among others all make the same step up to the main tour in recent years.
Unfortunately for him, there was no Porsche on offer for his hole-in-one, which was just the fifth in the 28-year history of the Grand Final, having to settle instead for an expensive bottle of champagne and a congratulatory flag. It was the first ace as a professional, though he also had one playing in a Scottish Amateur at Blairgowrie.
“Yeah, I’m going to be honest,” declared Walker. “I didn’t hit many good shots today and, with that one, I was just so angry. I’d just been duffing it round the whole way and thought, ‘I’m just going to hit this right at hole’.
“And I just hit it absolutely perfectly - the strike, flight, just exactly how I imagined it. It looked like it bounced and trickled into the hole - absolutely perfect. One of few good ones today.”
Having managed to get the anger he felt on Friday night after being infuriated by slow play out of his system, the 27-year-old started with back-to-back birdies before repeating the feat at the 12th, where the owner was sitting in a buggy at the back of the green as he spun his approach back down a slope to three feet, and 13th.
He then found a bush after tugging his tee shot at the short 14th, but, after taking a penalty drop, even the game’s greatest magicians would have admired the chip that allowed him to limit the spillage to just one shot.
“That was one of the best up and downs I’ve ever made,” admitted Walker of using the bank to take the sting out of his chip and miraculously get it to a couple of feet. “I was actually a bit angry that the guy found my ball in the bush as I’d hit my provisional into ten feet and I was like ‘oh no’ when the first one was found. To get up and down, though, was brilliant.”
German Maximillian Schmitt is the player now sitting 20th in the projected positions heading into what will be a nerve-wracking final round, with Walker’s parents, Eric and Rhona, having, understandably so, grown more anxious than they were earlier in the week as they follow him round.
“I’m really proud of my season overall,” said the man hitting the shots and hoping he can end it with one of those 20 coveted top-tour cards in his hands. “I’ve come back right from the brink of barely being able to golf at all earlier on this year. One more round to go tomorrow and I’ve just got to give it everything I can.”
Walker, who has Edinburgh man Tim Poyser on his bag, was heading to the range to give himself the best possible chance of stepping on that first tee on Sunday in the season’s climax feeling entirely happy about his game, as had been the case as he opened with a polished 68.
“Just try and get it on the fairway. That worked so well in the first round. I was in the fairway and on the green and I’ve just got to try and do that,” he said in pretty simplistic terms. “If I’m going to give myself any chance tomorrow, I need to try and find something on the range tonight.”
Kimsey, who was among around 15 players who came into the week knowing their cards were secured, started with a double-bogey 6 but bounced back with seven birdies to card a 66, which was matched by Easton as he stormed home in 31 to catapult himself up 31 spots to seventh in the standings.