As hopes of a tartan triumph on the MENA Tour disappeared following a disappointing last round for overnight leader Clarke Lutton at the Ghala Open in Oman, Lloyd Saltman made the best start among the Scottish contingent in the PGA EuroPro circuit’s Tour Championship in Spain.
Shaking off a disappointing season on the third-tier circuit, the Archerfield Links player carded a three-under-par 69 at Desert Springs to sit joint-ninth, just two shots off the lead in the 54-hole season-ending event.
Bidding to emulate his big brother, Elliot, who won the same event in Egypt 12 months ago to secure a step up to the Challenge Tour, Saltman birdied the fourth, fifth and seventh to be out in 34 before coming home in level-par.
On a day when English trio Sam Connor, Daniel Gavins and Haydn McMullen shot 67s to set the pace along with Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell, Jordan McColl (Kingsbarns) was next best among the Scots with a 70 which included six birdies but also a triple-bogey 7 at the 16th.
Ross Cameron (Saltire Energy) signed for a 72, two and three less than Michael Stewart (Troon Welbeck) and Paul Shields (Kirkhill) respectively, with Neil Fenwick’s hopes of climbing from eighth on the money list into the all-important top five suffering a severe setback as the Dunbar player opened with a 79 to sit 53rd in a 56-strong field.
Meanwhile, Lutton’s hopes of clinching a second victory in three events on the MENA Tour disappeared as he signed off with a 77 to slip from first overnight to joint-eighth at the finish as Englishman Lee Corfield came through to claim the title.
“I started off well, but a miscued approach on the seventh ruined my confidence,” said Lutton as he reflected on missing out on an opportunity to back up his breakthrough win on the circuit in the Golf Citizen Classic at The Els Club in Dubai. “I just struggled to string together the round thereafter.”
On a day when Dunbar’s Danny Kay claimed a top-10 finish after a closing 72, Corfield signed off with a bogey-free, three-under 69 to finish on 208, eight-under and two clear of Germany’s Aaron Leitmannstetter. After holding a two-shot lead following an opening 67, Ted Innes Ker, the Duke of Roxburghe’s son, ended joint 33rd following subsequent rounds of 78 and 76.