SCOTLAND’S Lloyd SALTMAN’S dream Open appearance in his own backyard instantly turned into a nightmare at Muirfield this morning.
The Archerfield ace ran up an EIGHT at the first hole after hitting two balls out of bounds from the tee as the 142nd Claret Jug joust got under way on a dramatic note. Saltman, playing for the third time in the world’s oldest major, was in the first group out at 6.32am and watched Aussie Peter Senior find the fairway as he struck the event’s opening blow.
With a rescue club in his hand, Saltman came off his first effort and sent it sailing high and wide over a 20-feet green mesh fence into the Tented Village. After re-loading, his next one wasn’t quite as far off line but it also ended up in the same place after clattering into something close to the fence.
With younger brother Zack on the bag and big brother
Elliot amongst family and friends watching, the 27-year-old still didn’t find the fairway with his next one.
That was in play at least but the painful episode cost Saltman, who lives ten minutes from the course at Prestonpans and had qualified for his home Open at Musselburgh, a quadruple-bogey.
It was quite a contrast to his debut in the R&A’s flagship event at St Andrews eight years ago, when Saltman made a good start and went on to win the Silver Medal as a leading amateur.
As the former Walker Cup player did his best to try and bounce back from today’s first-hole horror – he birdied both the third and fourth – R&A rules chief David Rickman defended the internal out of bounds in place there this week.
“It was here in 2002,” he told the Evening News. “The Tented Village footprint is probably slightly different, but it is fundamentally the same.
“Essentially, we have two choices with an area like that. We would either play it as an out of bounds or we would play the whole area as a temporary immovable obstruction (TIO).
“Our concern with the latter is that it gives free relief to any ball that goes in there.
When you look at the area the only difference between finding a ball in there and losing a ball in there is the point of free relief.
“If you couldn’t find the ball in there and it was marked as a TIO you would go with the point of entry and drop it within a club length there.
“If you find the ball in there you might make more distance, and you would come around on this equidistant arc, but in both cases it would be free relief and in this case you would be dropping on a very flattened bit of grass.
“So we felt that actually strategically off that first tee we didn’t like the notion of it being a TIO which would give a player a kind of bail-out option off that first tee.
“We did look at it again, but knowing what we did from 2002 we decided not only was it consistent, but it was right for this championship.
“It is unfortunate for Lloyd, but these things happen.”
American Brooks Koepka, winner of the Scottish Challenge in Aviemore last month, also started with an 8 in one of the early groups.