No longer a case of weight and see for Saltman

The Herald - Sport - - GOLF - NICK RODGER GOLF COR­RE­SPON­DENT AT MAC­DON­ALD SPEY VAL­LEY

YOU are what you eat and if you want to dine at the top ta­ble of golf then you of­ten have to make some decisive di­etary de­ci­sions.

Un­like the glut­tonous scribes, who have man­aged to dis­cover a meal be­tween break­fast and brunch, El­liot Saltman has shown a tad more dis­ci­pline when it comes to fling­ing var­i­ous food­stuffs down his thrap­ple. At 6ft 5in and with the kind of pow­er­ful build that mil­i­tary tanks are mod­elled on, it takes a brave man to pose a ques­tion to him about his weight but a five-un­der 66 in the open­ing round of the SSE Scot­tish Hy­dro Chal­lenge at Mac­don­ald Spey Val­ley showed that the 33-year-old is a leaner, meaner golf­ing ma­chine.

“I have lost a bit of weight, thank you,” said a smil­ing Saltman af­ter fin­ish­ing two strokes be­hind early pace­set­ter, Gary Boyd. “I was on the five-two diet and I do feel a lot bet­ter for it. Be­ing that bit fit­ter all round helps, par­tic­u­larly when you are do­ing a lot of trav­el­ling about on tour.”

Saltman, who once won his body weight in Span­ish ham for a hole-in-one at the Madrid Mas­ters, tasted the fine fare on of­fer on the main Euro­pean Tour in 2011, hav­ing come through the qual­i­fy­ing school the pre­vi­ous win­ter. He has dropped back down the peck­ing or­der in the years that have fol­lowed but vic­tory in the third-tier PGA EuroPro Tour’s grand fi­nal in Egypt last sea­son clinched his pro­mo­tion back to the Chal­lenge Tour. A win here on Scot­tish soil would do won­ders for his hopes of mak­ing another step up and a tidy round, bur­nished by six birdies, aided his as­sault.

“I feel I’m good enough to win,” added the Scot, who is down in 84th spot on the Chal­lenge Tour rank­ings.

“I’ve been mak­ing enough cuts this sea­son but not do­ing much on the week­ends.

“Par scores don’t do much at this level.”

Fron­trun­ner Boyd fin­ished 50th on the Euro­pean Tour or­der of merit in 2010 but has spi­ralled down the golf­ing ranks since then. Hav­ing hit rock bot­tom, the 28-year-old is now in the midst of a spir­ited sal­vage op­er­a­tion.

A sec­ond and a fifth on the Chal­lenge Tour in re­cent weeks have pro­vided welcome signs of re­cov­ery and an eight­birdie 64 yesterday, il­lu­mi­nated by a mon­strous putt of 45-feet on the sixth, kept him mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Boyd has also been aided by en­cour­ag­ing words from his good friend Ian Poul­ter, as well as the world No 8 Hen­rik Sten­son, who en­dured a ma­jor slump in form be­fore ris­ing back into the up­per ech­e­lons. “I’ve had two-and-ahalf years of play­ing rub­bish,” said Boyd, who was lead­ing by one from Maarten Lafeber, Jose Filipe Lima and Prom Mee­sawat. “Af­ter los­ing my card in 2012, I was as the low­est point and I was ask­ing my­self, ‘What am I go­ing to do now?’

“Speak­ing to Hen­rik, some­one who has had a cou­ple of form slumps, was good for me. We had a good chat and he said that he had eval­u­ated ev­ery­thing in his game and his life and changed cer­tain things. I’ve tried to do the same.”

K il­mar nock’s Jack Doher t y, bedrid­den for the last cou­ple of days with a stom­ach bug, put some colour back in his cheeks with a three-un­der 68 and was joined on that mark by Jamie McLeary, the 2009 Scot­tish Hy­dro win­ner, and Mother­well’s Ross Kel­lett, who chipped in from 25 yards on the 13th, his sec­ond, for an ea­gle.

Bradley Neil’s first card as a pro­fes­sional was a three-over 74 and the Blair­gowrie teenager is fac­ing a scrap to make the half­way cut.

EARN­ING HIS SALT: El­liot Saltman fin­ished among the lead­ers in Aviemore

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