2005: Amateurs - Saltman savors low amateur honor

St. Andrews, Scotland

The number of British Open silver medal winners who have gone on to fame in the professional game can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The only digit Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman hopes to hold up in the future is his right index finger, as in No. 1.

If any youngster can follow in Colin Montgomerie’s footsteps and become Scotland’s top golfer, it is the ebullient amateur from Craigielaw near Edinburgh.

Saltman, 19, took the top amateur award after a closing 71 and 5-under-par 283 in four trips around the Old Course. That was one stroke better than countryman Eric Ramsay from Carnoustie who opened and closed with 68s, but counted a pair of 74s in the middle. Ramsay, the reigning Australian Amateur champion, reached the championship field via the qualifier route.

Saltman tied for 15th. Low amateurs who have gone on to professional success in the modern era include Jose Maria Olazabal (1985), Paul Broadhurst (1988), Steve Webster (1995), Tiger Woods (1996) and Justin Rose (1998).

Saltman is having the year of his life. Earlier this season, he won the St. Andrews Links Trophy and Brabazon Trophy, two of the most important amateur titles in British golf. He was named to the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team a week before arriving at St. Andrews.

After surviving a playoff in regional qualifying, Saltman

shot 67-69 at Scotscraig in Local Final Qualifying to reach the championship. He needed to birdie the 72nd hole to take the top amateur spot. He accomplished that with a two-putt from 30 yards off the green.

Saltman sat down with his coach and father last year and crafted a three-year plan to take him to the professional ranks. He is well ahead of schedule, but said his program will not be accelerated.

“Nothing is going to change my plans,” he said. “I’ll stay amateur, enjoy the Walker Cup and try to win it. That was my goal at the start of the year. To get into this and win the silver medal is a bit of a bonus.”

The precocious Scot played in the company of 1986 PGA champion Bob Tway in the final round and beat him by four strokes.

“He’s a very good player, and he’ll probably be a star some day,” Tway said. “He did everything well. He’s ready for the professional game right now.”

Seven amateurs made the field (five via qualifying) and four made the cut. Edoardo Molinari, who played on the Italian team that tied for fourth last year in the World Amateur Team Championship, tied for 60th (1 over) in a group that included Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman. Walker Cup player Matthew Richardson of England, in the field thanks to his victory in the European Amateur Championship, finished 9-over par, last among those who played 72 holes. England’s Robert Steele, British Amateur champion Brian McElhinney of Ireland and Sweden’s Oscar Floren missed the weekend.

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