Golf: Top-order Elliot Saltman wins in Cork

Elliot Saltman broke the course record to win the Audi Cork Irish Masters by eight shots at Fota Island Resort and move top of the PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit by just £8.33.

It tops off a superb week for the Scot, who arrived on the back of qualifying for the 2012 Open Championship after a dramatic play-off on Tuesday.

Going into the final round in Cork, Archerfield’s Saltman was tied for the lead with Australian Rika Batibasaga and Welshman Stuart Manley, but a superb ten-under-par 61 saw him to a comfortable victory.

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He opened with a par at the first and then hit four consecutive birdies from the second. He completed the remaining four front-nine holes to par and made his fifth birdie of the round at the 10th. A birdie three followed at 12 before back-to-back threes at 14 and 15, both par fours. He then completed his round with back-to-back par breakers at 17 and 18 to sign for 61 and collect his £10,000 winner’s cheque.

“I have always had that there to be honest,” he reflected. “I felt it was a matter of time until I produced something like that. Last time I was in Ireland [for the Ulster Bank Open at Galgorm Castle, Ballymena] I got five under in the last round and came second, and then to shoot a combined six under par at Open Qualifying meant my confidence was flying.

“I made a target of nine under for the tournament, so to shoot ten under in one round was a great performance that I am very proud of.”

Manley (Machynys Peninsula) has moved up to fourth on the Tour Order of Merit after finishing second and collecting £5000. The top five golfers at the end of the season will be rewarded with a card for the 2013 Challenge Tour, just one step away from the European Tour.

The Welshman signed for a 69 at the end of his final round, beating Scotland’s Duncan Stewart to second by one shot.

German Marcel Siem now leads the Alstom French Open in Paris, and had his title hopes boosted by a dramatic collapse by world number three Lee Westwood. When Westwood chipped in at Le Golf National’s 10th hole, he was in a tie for third place. But he took penalty drops on three of the next five holes – once from heavy rough and twice from water – in dropping five shots.

Westwood did come back with a birdie on the short 16th, but a two-over-par 73 left him seven adrift of Siem, who leads by one from Swede Alex Noren at the halfway stage. “I got it together for the last few and I’m still not out of it,” Westwood said. “If you hit it straight I think there’s a low score out there.”

At least Westwood was still in it after his horror stretch over the same four holes that cost him four strokes on the opening day.

Open champion Darren Clarke paid a huge price for one nightmare hole, a quadruple-bogey 8 at the seventh, his third last. The 43-year-old Ulsterman, playing his last tournament before he defends the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in a fortnight, had been in 20th place as he stood on the tee, but after also dropping a stroke on the next, missed the cut by one on four over.