ON-FORM Archerfield ace Elliot Saltman sets out on Monday in his bid to secure another Open Championship appearance.
He’s heading for Bruntsfield Links to join the hopefuls at the regional qualifying stage for this year’s Claret Jug joust at Hoylake. At the Capital venue alone, 120 players will be battling out in an 18-hole shoot-out – and it’s just the first hurdle.
The lucky ones – normally a dozen or so – will then go forward to the final qualifying stage the week after next.
It’s been changed by the R&A this year, with the venues no longer close to the host course for the world’s oldest major.
Instead, that two-round test is being played at four courses around Britain, including Glasgow Gailes in Ayrshire.
A trip there would bring back good memories for Saltman as it was at Turnberry in 2009 that he qualified for The Open along with his brother, Lloyd.
Having also played at Muirfield last year, Lloyd is exempt from regional qualifying but Elliot is being joined at Bruntsfield Links by the youngest of the Saltman siblings, Zack.
As always in a one-round event, it can sometimes be a lottery but Elliot, for one, is certainly heading into this test in good fettle. It follows him having cemented fourth position on the PGA EuroPro Tour money-list this season.
A closing 65 at Cumberwell Park got him into a play-off in the HotelPlanner.com Championship with a 54-hole total of 200. And, though he was pipped in that shoot-out by Englishman Stiggy Hodgson, a £3750 cheque took Saltman’s earnings for the season to just more than £10,000.
Kirkhill’s Paul Shields, who also finished with a flourish to secure fifth spot at Cumberwell Park, is in the first group out at 8am on Monday.
It’s also due to feature Connor Syme, though given that the Dumfries & County teenager was lining up in the quarter-finals of the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush this morning that could now be doubtful.
Alan Tait, the Marriott Dalmahoy director of golf, is also among the early starters and he will be out to repeat his success at the same venue 12 months ago. The hopefuls also include three host club players – Stuart McLaren, Ross Brydon and Keith MacKenzie.
Meanwhile, James Ross saw his run in the Amateur Championship end agonisingly as the Capital star fell at the 19th to Englishman Paul Howard in the third round.