Just over a year after coming back from a three-month European Tour ban for “a serious breach of the 2010 Challenge Tour Members Regulations”, and just three days after securing his place in the Open, Scotland’s Elliot Saltman closed with a stunning 10 under 61 to win the Europro Tour’s Audi Cork Masters by an incredible eight shots.
The 30-year old from Archerfield, who was tied for the overnight lead with Australia’s Rita Batibasaga and Welshman Stuart Manley, arrived at the event on the back of qualifying for Royal Lytham and St Annes via a play off at Southport and Ainsdale on Tuesday evening.
But he left the field for dead on the Deerpark Course at Fota Island as he hit 10 birdies in a new course record to win by eight shots on 14 under par from Manley (69).
Derry’s Mick McGeady hit a brilliant 64 and Waterville’s David Higgins a fine 67 to finish as the best of the Irish contingent in tied fifth on three under.
Portstewart’s Paul Cutler, who was just a shot off the pace with a round to go, was swallowed up by the chasing pack as he posted a disappointing, one over 72 in his bid for a maiden professional win and slipped to tied 10th on two under.
Saltman appears to have brushed off the “cheating” scandal that saw him become only the third professional to be banned by the European Tour for breaking the rules
He was accused by his two playing partners, English duo Stuart Davis and Marcus Higley, of replacing his ball incorrectly on the greens at least five times in one round during the event in Moscow in 2010.
He accepted disqualification at the time but later retracted his admission of guilt, saying at the 2010 Q-School that he was “in shock at the time and I didn’t want to be labelled a cheat. I am sorry now that I didn’t stand up for myself.”
If he goes on to win the Open, it will make the Myles Byrne 15th club cock up at Royal Lytham in 2001 look like a very smal story indeed.
Right now the Scot is 500-1 to lift the Claret Jug but he’s certainly floating on air after trousering £10,000 in Cork.
Now top of the PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit by just £8.33, he told the official website: “I have always had that there to be honest. I felt it was a matter of time until I came out and produced something like that.
“Last time I was in Ireland [for the Ulster Bank Open at Galgorm Castle, Ballymena] I got five under in the last round and came second, and then to shoot a combined six under par at Open Qualifying meant my confidence was flying coming to Fota Island.
“I made a target of nine under for the tournament so to shoot ten under in one round was a great performance that I am very proud of.
“Fota Island is an immaculate golf course. It is very, very good and a lot of the players have been giving it very high praise. Everything was immaculate, it was a very well-run tournament and it is something Fota Island should be proud of.”