LEE Walker is heading “back to that famous drawing board again” after missing out on a belated birthday present at the ManBetX Welsh Open.

Walker turned 43 on Monday but didn’t have a win to celebrate today as he suffered a 4-2 first-round defeat to world number 35 Ricky Walden.

Newbridge’s Walker, 98th in the world, enjoyed his best run in a ranking event last year when reaching the semi-finals of the Gibraltar Open, and he made the last eight of the Paul Hunter Classic this season.

However, despite compiling a break of 105 to cut Walden’s lead to 3-2, Walker fell at the first hurdle in Cardiff for the second year running.

“I’m very disappointed to go out in the first round,” he said. “I just wasn’t good enough. I had enough chances.

“Ricky played well, but I knew he was going to play well because he’s a class player.

“The frame before my century, I was 30 or 40 points in front, and I had a great chance to win it with a tricky pink that I should get. If you’re playing at this level, you can’t miss those.”

He added: “Obviously you want to do well in this event, you want to do well in any event because it’s so tough.

“I thought that with the run I was on a few months ago I was really going forward, but I think I’ve hit a brick wall again and gone backwards a bit. It’s back to that famous drawing board again that I’ve been to quite a few times in my career.

“You want to do well in the Welsh Open, in any tournament, but the World Championship is obviously very special.

“I’ve done well there before so if I could play there once more before I finish that would be the icing on the cake for me.

“But I’m going to have to play a lot better than I am because that’s not going to be good enough to qualify for the Crucible.”