Martin Kaymer hits out at Elliot Saltman cheating and says: 'I couldn't live with that'
World No 1 Lee Westwood and second-ranked Martin Kaymer both weighed into the debate that has been raging over Saltman's three-month ban as the 28-year-old broke his silence three weeks after the punishment was handed out by the European Tour.
Westwood claimed the ban should have been worldwide after seeing Saltman, who has until next Tuesday to lodge an appeal, play in a third-tier event in Spain last week.
And Kaymer said he would be unable to live with himself if he was in the same position as Saltman, who was found guilty of "a serious breach of the rules" during a Challenge Tour event in Russia last September.
Saltman, who won his European Tour card while waiting for a disciplinary hearing, is taking advice from his lawyers, having met with them on a number of occasions since becoming only the third professional to be banned for cheating on the European circuit.
He was accused by his two playing partners, English duo Stuart Davis and Marcus Higley, of replacing his ball incorrectly on the greens at least five times in one round during the event in Moscow.
However, it now seems he could be prepared to take his ban on the chin and try to get on with his career, even though that would mean he'd have to put up with the stigma. Speaking on 'Rough Justice' a special report into the rules of golf on Sky Sports News HD last night, Saltman said: "Obviously, I'm a bit gutted that this all happened. It's in the hands of the solicitors and lawyers and I can't really say anything, unfortunately, until they point me in the right direction.
"Hopefully, we'll either get something sorted or I'll just take my three-month ban and come out a stronger and a better person."
He added: "I've seen them (legal advisors] a couple of times since I came back from Abu Dhabi.
"Obviously their advice and help has been great. I put my faith in them and whatever they say I'll take on board and proceed that way. I want to speak my mind but, at this stage, I can't really say anything (more] and maybe in a week or two week's time I can give you more information."
The Scot has now been severely criticised over the incident by Kaymer, the USPGA champion, while Westwood reckons Saltman's ban should not just have been restricted to the European Tour and the second-tier Challenge Tour.
That followed his appearance last week in an event on the Hi5 Tour, which is independently run and doesn't come under the jurisdiction of the committee that handed out his ban.Also speaking on the Sky Sports News report, Kaymer said he didn't know how Saltman could live with himself after being found guilty of such an offence. "The player should be honest with himself. He's cheating not only himself but other players as well. I could not live with that."
Westwood added: "If you are going to ban somebody, it ought to be a worldwide ban, I'd have thought."
Echoing that view, fellow Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson said: "If you have broken the rules and been banned, I don't see why you would be allowed to play for money anywhere in the world. It seems a little bit strange."
Peter Dawson, the R&A chief executive, said he believes Saltman should accept his punishment and try to move on. "I haven't been intimately involved with the Saltman affair," he commented. "But it's a shame. We at the R&A know the family from their amateur days. And two of the brothers have done very well to get their European Tour cards. So I hope this incident will be forgotten in the sense that Elliot serves his time and cracks on with his career. I wish him every success."
One player who said he had no problems with Saltman lining up in last week's event at Hacienda Del Alamo was Paul Doherty, the former Scottish Boys' champion who was also in the field.
"He is definitely entitled to be here," said Doherty. "There is sympathy from a lot of players. Everyone has their opinion but, at the end of the day, I think he's a great player who is trying to make a living like the rest of us."
If Saltman accepts his ban, he will be eligible to make his European Tour return in the Volvo China Open in April.
According to Englishman Richard Finch, a member of the players' committee, he is probably going to get a frosty welcome at first but, in time, should be able to get on with his career peacefully enough.
"I think it will be awkward to start with. It is important that he changes what he has been doing and comes out and has a bit of remorse to the people he has affected through his actions," said the Englishman.
"There are other players in the past who have made errors but, in time, things move on and who knows how it will turn out."