Walker and Whitlock Shine on Opening Day of O'Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida - The 2009 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) kicked off its season opener today with the ASP WQS 4-Star O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro pres. by Ron Jon in one-to-two foot (1 metre) peaky surf.

The ASP WQS acts as a gateway to the ASP World Tour, with the top 15 qualifiers at season’s end earning their chance to compete alongside the rest of the ASP Top 45 competitors. All O’Neill SI Pro surfers will look to kick start their season with a good result at this year’s season opener, which is the biggest East Coast surf contest of the year.

Heath Walker (Carlsbad, CA), 33, smashed the day’s highest single-wave score of an 8.17 out of 10 by utilizing speed and power to issue several forehand gouges on a racy righthander. The Australian followed up with a second solid score to claim his Round 1 heat win.

Ricky Whitlock (Carlsbad, CA), 21, was also a standout performer in the opening day of the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro, claiming his opening heat by posting one of the day’s highest heat totals of 14.16 out of 20 to advance into Round 2. Whitlock applied his previous Sebastian Inlet experience to claim his heat win.

After a disappointing finish to the 2008 ASP WQS season, Whitlock is looking to point his year in the right direction at the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro. He hopes to utilize his opening heat win as a warm up for the latter rounds.

Danny Estes (Ventura, CA) was one of the first surfers to advance out of Round 2 today, winning his heat over Dylan Graves (Isabella, PRI), 22, who was on fire in Round 1, but was eliminated in Round 2 due to a costly interference against the Chilean charger Manuel Selman (Renaca, CHL) 19.

O’Neill Sebastian Inlet pro pres by Ron Jon Results:

Round of 160: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1:
Eric Worley (USA) 9.83, Andrew Gahan (USA) 9.67, Colin Harrington (USA) 5.27
Heat 2: Will Tant (USA) 11.50, Alejandro Moreda (PRI) 10.40, Liam Michelbrink (USA) 6.70, Brodie Walker (USA) 6.03
Heat 3: Nick Rupp (USA) 6.73, Marvin Scott (USA) 5.46, Josie Graves (PRI) 5.10, Tommy Orsini (USA) 4.27
Heat 4: Dylan Graves (PRI) 14.67, Caleb Johnston (USA) 9.0, Rick Mellen (USA) 6.10, Devon Ayers (USA) 3.57
Heat 5: Ricky Whitlock (USA) 14.16, Michael Dunphy (USA) 13.60, Jared Thorne (USA) 4.53
Heat 6: Jody Davis (USA) 10.83, Sean Tubbs (USA) 9.84, Phillip Watters (USA) 7.70, Ryan Heavyside (USA) 2.99
Heat 7: Edmund Townsend (USA) 8.74, Dylan Goodale (HAW) 6.93, David Giddings (USA) 5.64
Heat 8: Justin Jones (USA)13.00, Jeremy Johnston (USA) 10.43, Evan Thompson (USA) 10.40
Heat 9: Aaron Cormican (USA) 11.17, Willie Safreed (USA) 5.74, Ian Bloch (USA) 4.83
Heat 10: Dege O’Connell (HAW) 13.86, Robert Kelly (USA) 9.17, Sean Bacon (USA) 6.57
Heat 11: Chase Wilson (USA) 1.42, Ryan Helm (USA) 8.44, Doug Van Mierlo (USA) 6.77, Shaw Kobayashi (USA) 5.47
Heat 12: Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 12.17, Ron Keindl (USA) 9.06, Cody Sammons (USA) 2.27
Heat 13: Dylan Southworth (MEX) 10, Matt Wetmore (USA) 6.93, Tory Barron (HAW) 6.56
Heat 14: Heath Walker (AUS) 12.87, Kelsey Strickland (USA) 9.36, Keto Burns (USA) 9.07, Jordan Heaslegrave (BRB) 5.23
Heat 15: Sebastian Moreno (USA) 11.00, Eddie Guilbeau (USA) 7.86, Sean Poynter (USA) 7.46
Heat 16: Tayler Brothers (USA) 7.93, Gary Wheeler (USA) 6.20, Mat Story (USA) 3.54

Round of 128 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1:
Alejandro Moreda (PRI) 10.40, Eric Worley (USA) 7.13, Thomas Petriken (USA) 6.24, Matt Johnson (USA) 5.69
Heat 2: Andrew Gahan (USA) 10.63, Scott Posner (USA) 7.86, Will Tant (USA) 7.60, Matt Myers (USA) n/s
Heat 3: Oliver Kurtz (USA) 9.00, Nick Rupp (USA) 8.50, Caleb Johnston (USA) 6.87, Hunter Heverly (USA) 5.26
Heat 4: Danny Estes (USA) 8.97, Manuel Selman (CHL) 8.10, Marvin Scott (USA) 4.64, Dylan Graves (PRI) 4.47