Formerly an anonymous Scottish journeyman, Elliot Saltman (28) largely plies his trade on Europe’s second-tier circuit, The Challenge Tour. But the manner of his disqualification from last season’s M2M Russian Challenge Cup (actually in Russia! Who knew?) has rather dramatically seized this week’s headlines.
Saltman has been found guilty of cheating by a European Tour disciplinary panel. After hearing evidence from his Challenge Cup playing partners and tournament referee Gary Butler, the eight-member panel agreed that Saltman was guilty of consistently marking his ball incorrectly and moved to ban him from competitive play for a period of three months. Incredibly, the Scot is only the third European Tour player to be disciplined for cheating since 1985. The last wasn’t Colin Montgomerie, by the way, but John Tuamba in 1992.
While Saltman’s mutating explanation for his indiscretions offers something of a darkly comic sideshow, the real issue threatens to become cheating itself and the consistency with which it’s punished at golf’s highest level. Rumours of habitual offending becoming a commonplace on both the European and PGA Tour have dogged the game in recent years and the
Saltman case threatens to disturb the carefully maintained press silence on the issue. No amount of misdirection or circumlocution is likely to spare European Tour chief exec. George O’Grady from confronting some tough questions at tomorrow’s scheduled press conference.