Scot Elliot Saltman fired a brilliant course record equalling 64 to set the pace in the first round of the Fred Olsen Challenge de España on the Canary Island of La Gomera.
The 28 year old put together a flawless eight under par round, including six birdies and an eagle on the par five seventh, which saw him match the record set last year at Tecina Golf.
It could have been even better but for a missed putt for birdie at the third from five feet and an eagle putt that lipped out on the ninth.
Saltman, playing his third event in succession on the Challenge Tour, has been happy with his game of late and saw the round as merely the result of some good momentum built up over the past few weeks.
He said: “I went home after Morocco and worked on a few things, got mentally stronger and again played very solid today.
“I have Rhys Davies’ victory here last year on my mind and the Challenge de España is definitely the tournament to win!”
He is right to have last year’s Welsh victor at the forefront of his thoughts as it proved the springboard to Davies who, a year on, has won on The European Tour and is in contention for a home debut at The Ryder Cup in October after a string of impressive performances during his rookie season.
Saltman holds a two stroke lead over Ireland’s Colm Moriarty, who had set the target with a round of six under par that included two eagles alongside three birdies and a solitary bogey.
He said: “I played really well, and making two eagles is a bonus - I’m not sure I’ve done that too many times.
“I am working hard with both my coaches – Bob Torrance and Neil Manchip – and I am happy with the work we are doing and it is starting to pay off.”
The early leader began steadily enough with a birdie at the third before a 5-wood to 15 feet on the seventh yielded his first eagle.
Birdies followed at the ninth and tenth holes until a bogey at the 15th looked like derailing his progress, but the second eagle followed at the 17th with a sweet a 4-iron to a few feet that set up the easiest of threes.
The leader is the older brother of Lloyd, winner of the Silver Medal at The Open in 2005. Elliot will hope that in the next few days it will be his name on the lips of golf writers for a change in his quest for European Tour status next year – the added bonus, if he needed any, being that today he leads his brother by seven.
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