Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman yesterday started a three-month ban from the European Tour, but the stigma from being found guilty of “a serious breach” of rules is bound to last far longer unless he wins an appeal.
The oldest of three brothers who are all professionals, the 28-year-old Tour rookie was called before the tournament committee over his ball-marking during a second-tier event in Russia last September.
Saltman, accused by both his playing partners Stuart Davis and Marcus Higley of breaking the rules on a number of occasions, was disqualified at the time and now becomes the first member of the circuit to be banned since Johan Tumba in 1992.
The Swede received a 10-year suspension for changing his scorecard during the Tour qualifying school, although it was later reduced to three years.
A European Tour statement said that Saltman, whose brother Lloyd also came through the qualifying school last November and as an amateur was 15th in the 2005 Open at St Andrews, was guilty of breaking its regulations.
He has the right to lodge an appeal before the board of the European Tour within the next 28 days.
Golf prides itself on the honesty of its players and world number one Lee Westwood said: “The fact that we are highlighting one case shows how little it goes on in golf — it's very rare.
“There isn't any room for bending the rules in any sport and when it does occur you have to give a ban out.”