Saltman seals spot in Tour school final

LLOYD Saltman gave his professional career a major boost yesterday as he came through a seven-man play-off to seal a place in this week's European Tour qualifying school final.

The Craigielaw rookie, who has struggled to gain a foothold in the paid ranks after making the step up last season, was forced to return to action at Sherry Golf in Jerez to compete in a tense shoot-out for the final spot after darkness prevented the sudden-death decider taking place on Saturday night.

Saltman, 23, had closed with a four-under 68 to haul himself up to the qualifying limit of 285 and the former Open silver medal winner showed his quality at the first play-off hole, knocking a nine-iron from 140 yards to ten feet and holing the putt for a vital birdie three.

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Saltman's success took the number of Scottish qualifiers from stage two to six after Chris Doak, Craig Lee, Graham Gordon and amateur duo Scott Henry and Callum Macaulay all came through on Saturday.

Doak, the Tartan Tour No 1, closed with a two-under 70 at Montenmedio to share seventh place with Lee on six-under 282, while Cardross youngster Henry stole the last qualifying spot on offer with a two-under 286 after a 70.

Macaulay, the Scottish Amateur champion, produced a late rally at Arcos Gardens to grab the 19th of 21 qualifying places with a 68 for 282, while Aberdonian Gordon came storming up the field at Costa Ballena with a seven-under 65 to share ninth on 276.

Edinburgh's David Patrick, ninth at the start of the closing day at Costa Ballena, missed out on a final spot in a play-off while Comrie amateur Wallace Booth toppled down from seventh and out of the qualifying places at Montenmedio with a crippling 78 for a 289.

Perth's Gavin Dear suffered play-off misery at Arcos Gardens after finishing on the 283 limit, while Elliot Saltman and Euan Little, the winner of stage one of the Q-school at Dundonald in September, both failed to make the grade.

The six-round Tour school final tees-off on Thursday at PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona, where 30 cards for the European circuit will be on offer.