Lloyd Saltman has 'free run' at getting his Tour card

IN his three attempts so far, Lloyd Saltman has succeeded only once in reaching the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School. That was in 2008, when a damaging 80 in his third round cost him a place in the final 36 holes of the six-round test

Last year, Saltman, who looked set for a quick climb up the ladder after turning professional in 2007 on the back of a glittering amateur career but has seen his career stall somewhat, fell at the first hurdle.

That disappointment resulted in the 25-year-old holding a low category card on the Challenge Tour this year, meaning there were occasions when he had to wait on a phone call to see if he had come off the reserve list for events on the second-tier circuit.

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Thanks to a strong end to the season - he was third in France and ninth in Russia - Saltman finished 56th on the money-list, securing a better Challenge Tour card next year and, he says, giving him a "free run" in his latest bid to secure a place on the European Tour.

That resumes today in Spain, where the Archerfield Links player is among 20 Scots taking part in the second stage at four venues. He's among the hopefuls at Costa Ballena, where the field also includes former Scottish amateur champion John Gallagher. Saltman's older brother, Elliot, is at Hacienda del Alamo along with Wallace Booth, winner of one of the first stage events at Dundonald Links, and Craig Lee, while Scottish PGA champion Chris Doak and Callum Macaulay tee it up at Arcos Gardens and El Valle respectively.

"I feel my game is in good shape and I'm excited about this week after having a good finish to my Challenge Tour campaign," said Saltman, who shot three rounds in the 60s to finish second in an event on the Spanish-based Hi5 Tour last week.

"I'm maturing as a player and the fact I have secured full playing rights on the Challenge Tour for next season, which means I can pick and choose events and also get into some of the co-sanctioned ones, means I have a free run at trying to get a European Tour card."