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Kelly Slater is the biggest name facing early elimination after the Margaret River Pro men's competition finally got underway in heavy waves.
While the women completed round one of the World Surf League event on Monday, the men took to the water in a wild swell at Main Break on Friday following a four-day wait.
The surfers are feeling the pressure with a mid-season cut to follow the West Australian event.
The top 22 men, plus a wildcard, will qualify for the second half of the Championship Tour season while the top 10 women, plus a wildcard, move on.
Two-time world champion John John Florence, provided the benchmark on Friday, posting a combined two-wave score of 15.60.
Hawaiian Florence said the big conditions, with waves up to 4.5 metres, reminded him of home.
"I was stoked - the waves are big today and cleaned up a lot since when I first looked at it," the 29-year-old said.
"It's fun going fast and I think the speed you get out here is pretty amazing.
"There are a couple of waves in Hawaii that are pretty similar and you take off and you're going so fast and you're in the biggest walls and I love that."
Fellow Hawaiian Zeke Lau also topped his heat, scoring 15.00 and with Australian Ryan Callinan second with 13.37, Slater was relegated to the elimination round.
Fifty-year-old Slater never really got going, only managing two scores of under five, however he is fourth in the rankings, having won at Pipeline in February, and sure to make the cut.
Other Australians to advance directly to round three at Margaret River include Olympic medallist Owen Wright, Jackson Baker, Ethan Ewing, Connor O'Leary, Morgan Cibilic and Jack Robinson.
Current world No.1 Felipe Toledo, who won the last competition at Bells Beach earlier this month, comfortably downed Wright in their heat with West Australian Jack Thomas third.
Thomas will go into a sudden-death elimination round heat against Slater and Brazilian Jadson Andre.
Australian Callum Robson, who was runner-up at the Rip Curl Prowon his heat. He, Robinson and Ewing are already ranked high enough to survive the chop.
Tyler Wright, who won at Bells to move to second in the rankings, is the only Australian woman guaranteed to move beyond the mid-season cut.
Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore is ranked ninth and needs a solid result on the fifth stop of the season to secure her spot, while fellow Australians India Robinson (eighth), Sally Fitzgibbons (equal 12th), Isabella Nichols (equal 12th), Molly Picklum (16th) and Bronte Macaulay (18th) are others who need to come up with the goods.