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Walker Medalist at Canadian Q-School

Canadian Tour-LargeCHINO HILLS, Calif. -- Aussie David Walker regained his touch just in time Friday to take medallist honours as Canadian Tour Winter Qualifying closed out in California.

Walker, who began the day with a four-shot lead, slipped into cruise control en route to an even-par 72 at Los Serranos CC. With a four-day total of 14-under 274, Walker came in two shots clear of Americans John Lieber and Brendan Steele. Michael Letzig and Anthony Rodriguez shared fourth at 11 under.

Seven competitors met in a playoff for the final four exempt spots.

Scott McNeil of Calgary carded a final-round 74 to wind up in a tie for tenth to regain exempt playing privileges he lost after his 2005 rookie campaign.

Winnipegs Adam Speirs will have non-exempt status after winding up at 5-under 283.

Twenty players earned exempt cards for the upcoming season while 18 others have non-exempt, or conditional, status.

Walker started tentative Friday, making the turn at 1-over for the day before a four-putt double bogey from 12 feet on number 11. Trailing Lieber by two after 13 holes, Walker reeled off four birdies over his final five holes to regain the top perch on the leaderboard.

For the first nine holes, I was more relaxed than I wanted to be, Walker conceded. After the double, it was game on. It was anyones tournament.

Knowing I had a four-shot lead was the toughest part of the day. If you are in front like that, you tend to coast.

It didnt really work, he laughed.

Walker turned professional six months ago and spent the winter on the Australian PGA Tour. With several Aussie friends on the Canadian Tour during the Australian off-season, Walker, who has never travelled outside his native country, felt Canada was a obvious fit.

With our season pretty well over, this is a great place to play. You want to stay in shape with those four-round tournaments, and Ive got a lot of friends here. To get a chance to spend time in another country and play golf, I cant wait.

McNeil, coming off a disappointing rookie season on the Canadian Tour, is looking for better things in his second stint. In 2005, McNeil made just two of nine cuts and couldnt retain his card.

It was tough at times, but I learned a ton last year, admitted the 24-year-old. Learning is so important in this game. I did what I wanted to do this week, and now I am looking forward to the season.

Arguably the longest hitter on the Canadian Tour, McNeil realizes he has a subtle advantage every time he steps up to the tee. In the off-season, he began working with a sports psychologist and is hoping for a new mental attitude in 2006.

I dont want to play golf by saying Crush it, find it and hit it again, said McNeil, referring to his long game. I made a lot of big mistakes last year and it just snowballed. I was able to limit my mistakes this week and I want to carry that into the season. Im learning to focus on my entire game instead of just worrying about my score.

Walker and his fellow successful qualifiers wont have to wait long to make their Tour debut. The Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic starts a two-event swing through Austin, Tex. March 2-5.

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Canadian Tours Winter Q-School
  • Full Coverage - Canadian Tours Winter Q-School