Noren takes title but Saltman plays aces
Monday 06 June 2011
As Alexander Noren was celebrating his second European Tour title at the Saab Wales Open yesterday, a disbelieving Elliot Saltman was showing there is life after golfing ignominy. The Scotsman, banned for three months on a "cheating" charge earlier this season, had his second hole-in-one on the same hole in the same tournament, becoming the first player to do so in two decades.
Saltman hit a seven iron on the 211-yard 17th and watched in astonishment as it bounced once and disappeared. In Thursday's first round he used an eight-iron with the same effect. The feat had not been accomplished since Eamonn Darcy at the 1991 Mediterranean Open.
"I'm just overwhelmed with it – amazing," said Saltman. "I'd only ever seen that hole before on TV at the Ryder Cup when Graeme McDowell won the winning point there."
There was one disappointment as a Saab car was on offer for a hole-in-one at the 13th. Instead, Saltman had to settle for two magnums of champagne and a night in the resort's presidential suite worth £1,500, although it also helped him finish 12th.
Saltman must be pleased to enter the record books for a positive reason. In January, just three months after he won his card, he became the first player on Tour to receive a ban in 19 years.
At the Russian Challenge Cup in Moscow last September, Saltman was accused by his playing partners of incorrectly marking his ball on the putting green on at least five occasions. He was disqualified and agreed that he had broken the rules. Saltman later retracted this, but a committee still found him culpable at a hearing in Dubai.
Mud sticks in golf, yet Saltman claims the notoriety is becoming easier. "Every week is getting better," said Saltman, whose brother Lloyd is also a Tour member. " A lot's been said, but at the end of the day what happens happens. There have been a lot of players who have been brilliant and welcomed me back. It's been a long slog if you like, more mental than anything else. Right now I feel brilliant."
However, the relief may be temporary. Police confirmed to The Scotsman newspaper last week they were investigating a confrontation between Saltman and John Gallagher, another professional, at an Edinburgh course. The incident before a minor Tour event saw Gallagher report Saltman for allegedly threatening behaviour.
Back on the course, Noren finally added to his European Masters victory of two years ago. The 28-year-old from Sweden shot a 70 to maintain his overnight lead and win by two shots from the Dane Anders Hansen and the Frenchman Gregory Havret.
McDowell, the defending champion, finished 30th, but would have been content with a final-round 71 after a calamitous 81 on Saturday. The Ulsterman will now have three days at home before heading over to America to try to retain his title at next week's US Open.
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