Philip Walton putting on the 18th at Seapoint in the first round of this year’s Irish PGA. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ie.Ryder Cup hero Philip Walton opened with a level par 72 in the first round of the Champions Tour Q-School Regional Qualifier in Texas.

The Malahide man, who turns 50 early next year, finished the day tied for 14th place at WoodForest Golf Club in Montgomery, four shots behind leader Gene Jones.

European Senior Tour regular Barry Lane, second on the Order of Merit this season, shot a 69 to share second place with Matt Seitz and Steve Jurgensen with Spain’s Miguel Angel Martin tied for fifth after a 70.

Players are competing at three regiona sites but the number to advance from each venue to the 78-man final qualifying scheduled for the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course from November 15-18 has yet to be announced.

The low five scores at final qualifying will receive full cards on the 2012 Champions Tour while those finishing from sixth to 12th place will be conditionally exempt.

Meanwhile at the First Stage of the PGA Tour Q-School in Texas, Carrickmore’s Fergal Rafferty has work to do after opening with a a two over par 74.

The Dungannon player is tied for 44th at Lantana Golf Club where the qualifying target has yet to be set. However, Rafferty knows that he must finish inside the top 15 to be sure of making it to November’s second stage.