Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Spain, no gain for Lloyd Saltman


Lloyd Saltman is hoping some time in the Spanish sunshine will help him to get off to a flying start on next season's Challenge Tour.
To escape the poor weather at home, Saltman, pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency, has headed to the Iberian Peninsula along with his younger brother, Zack, as well as their former Craigielaw clubmate, Shaun McAllister, to play on the Hi 5 Tour, a circuit which consists of 11 events between now and the end of March.
The former Walker Cup player closed with rounds of 67 and 66, a course record, to finish second behind Spain's Dani Alonso Janssen in last week's event at Hacienda Riquelme in Murcia and is currently playing in the Condado de Alhama Challenge in the same south-east region of Spain.
On a Jack Nicklaus signature course, Saltman shot opening rounds of 71 and 68 to lie in second place behind Lasse Sonne-Nielsen, a Danish amateur, who opened with a ten-under-par 61 and was seven shots clear of the field, going into the final 18 holes today.
"I played in one of these events last year before the Challenge Tour got underway," said the Aegon player."It's a good opportunity to keep playing competitively at this time of the year and I decided to head out for the two events before Christmas with Zack and Shaun.
"I probably won't play in all of the events on the schedule but I'm glad I came out here as I feel I'm making progress with the things I've been working on with Colin Brooks (his coach). I'm hitting the ball pretty solidly and, for the first time in my career, I hit 18 greens in regulation in the 66 I shot last week. I'd hit 17 in regulation before but to do all 18 in the one round was nice."
After falling at the first hurdle in the European Tour Qualifying School process, Saltman will be concentrating on the Challenge Tour again in 2010.
"I have the same ranking as last season, when I played in 18 events," he added. "My first target will be to get off to a good start as that was my downfall last season."After a poor start, I found it difficult to find my feet and it was only towards the back end of the year that I felt I was playing my best golf.
"It was so disappointing that my season ended when I finished second in the EuroPro Tour event at Fairmont St Andrews. It would have been nice to have come away from there knowing I still had a few more tournaments to play."
While the Challenge Tour will be his No 1 priority next year, Saltman is also determined to qualify for The Open at St Andrews, where he enjoyed the best week of his career to date in 2005 when he won the Silver Medal as leading amateur.
He was back on that stage with his older brother, Elliot, at Turnberry earlier this year, which means they'll both be exempt into the final qualifying in 2010.
"I've got great memories of the last Open at St Andrews and it would be amazing if I could get back there next July – it's a week that can change your whole career," added Saltman.
Elliot is also playing in sunnier climes at the moment and moved up the leaderboard in the Samanah Masters, an event involving the top players from the EuroPro Tour, the Nordic League, the EPD Tour and the Alps Tour, in Morocco after a second-round 68.
That moved him to a tie for 11th on three under for the tournament, though Englishman Daniel Brooks already looked as though he had that title wrapped up after storming ten shots clear of the field going into the final round today following scores of 64 and 63.



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