Banned Elliot Saltman faces frosty reception at Spanish event
The 28-year-old was a late entry for the Hacienda De Alamo Open, an event on the Hi5 Tour, joining his two brothers, Lloyd and Zack, in the line-up in Murcia. Hi5 Tour officials contacted their counterparts at Wentworth to make sure it was okay for the oldest of the Saltman siblings to play in the 54-hole tournament and were told he was eligible due to the fact his ban only applies to the European Tour and the European Challenge Tour.
Nigel German, the Hi5 Tour's Spanish representative, told The Scotsman: "Our standpoint is that Elliot has played over 30 rounds on the Hi5 Tour and has been nothing other than exemplary. He's been a model pro along with the other Saltman brothers and we have no issues with him playing. We approached the European Tour, speaking to David Garland and Mike Stewart, and they said the ban only applied to the European Tour and Challenge Tour. It does not affect any satellite Tours or anything in Asia or America."
Saltman is considering an appeal against the ban handed to him by the European Tour tournament committee over his disqualification from a Challenge Tour event in Russia last September. Asked how he thought the other players in the field for this week's event would feel about him playing, German added: "We have no issue with that. We feel a person is innocent until proven guilty and Elliot is in the process of considering an appeal."
By the sounds of things, however, the Scot's presence at Hacienda De Alamo is going to prove hard to swallow for some of his fellow competitors. While wishing to remain anonymous, one player speaking from there yesterday said: "I am surprised that he is playing and I will refuse to play if I am drawn with him. I have spoken to some other players here and they feel the same."
The Hi5 Tour is among a handful of third-tier circuits that have sprung up around Europe in recent years. Like the PGA EuroPro Tour, the EPD Tour and the Alps Tour, it is run independently and doesn't come under the jurisdiction of the European Tour.
Along with his brothers, Saltman has played on the Hi5 Tour occasionally over the past couple of years, using the circuit to keep his game in shape towards the end of last year before launching his successful bid at the Tour School. Last March he also won the Condado Open in Murcia.