Police investigate after golfers' confrontation in club car park

THE normally sedate world of Scottish professional golf has been shaken after police confirmed they are investigating a confrontation between two players in a clubhouse car park.

The Scotsman understands John Gallagher, a touring professional at Swanston Golf Club in Edinburgh, contacted police after a confrontation with tour golfer Elliot Saltman, who recently returned to the sport after a three-month ban for cheating during a match last year.

The incident took place during a heat of the Optical Express Pro Golf Tour held at the Hilton Park Golf Course in Milngavie on Thursday morning.

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It is understood Gallagher was in the car park of the club preparing to take part in the tournament when he was confronted by Saltman, who was acting as caddy for his brother Zack during the competition.

Words were exchanged between the two men, resulting in a public bust-up in front of a number of witnesses during which Saltman was said to have threatened Gallagher. The two men had to be separated by a caddie.

It not clear what sparked the incident.

Despite the exchange, Gallagher went on to compete in the event, finishing in a tie for second place, with rounds of 71 and 67 for two under par.

Returning home, golfing sources said that the player had been left fearful by Saltman's threats and so reported it to an Edinburgh police station.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police confirmed that a complaint referring to an alleged incident had been made against Saltman but said officers were still in the early stages of their investigation.

Nigel Scott-Smith, one of the tournament's organisers, said that he was "not aware at all" of any incident taking place during the day.

An online report on the match on a golf website included comments from a spectator who had apparently witnessed the incident.

One contributor to www.golfblogger.co.uk said: "The carry on in car park with Elliot Saltman trying to draw one of (the] players in to a fight spoilt (the] day for me."

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When contacted about the incident, Saltman's father, Jack, who is also his manager, said: "This is the first I've heard anything of this at all, so I can't really comment."

The complaint comes just weeks after Saltman returned to competitive golf when he took part in the Spanish Open in Barcelona at the start of the month, ending a three-month ban from the European Tour and Challenge Tour.

He was barred by the European Tour's tournament committee after being accused by his two playing partners of incorrectly marking his ball on the putting green on at least five occasion in the first round of last September's M2M Russian Challenge Cup in Moscow.Saltman, who is currently without a sponsor, is the third golfer to have been banned by the European Tour since 1985. Fellow Scot David Robertson was banned for 20 years after he was found to have cheated during a qualifying event for the 1985 Open Championship.