Scotland’s Elliot Saltman was banned for three months by the European Tour on Wednesday for incorrectly marking his ball on the green during an event last year.
The incident happened Sept. 16 in Moscow during the first round of the Russian Challenge Cup on the developmental European Challenge Tour. The 28-year-old Saltman was disqualified from the event and attended a disciplinary hearing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
A statement released by the tour said its tournament committee unanimously found that Saltman “committed a serious breach,” suspending him from all European Tour and Challenge Tour-sanctioned tournaments with immediate effect.
Saltman is the first professional to be banned from the European Tour since 1992, when Johan Tumba of Sweden was suspended for 10 years for altering his scorecard at qualifying school. David Robertson was also banned for 20 years in 1985 for replacing his ball incorrectly in a qualifying event for the British Open.
Saltman, who had earned his full European Tour card for 2011 at Q-School late last year, admitted after the event in the Russian capital that he had broken the rules, but has since retracted those comments.
"I accepted what was said at the time (in Moscow) because I was in shock at the time and I didn't want to be labelled a cheat,” he said at Q-School. "I am sorry now that I didn't stand up for myself."
He has the right to appeal against the tournament committee’s verdict within 28 days.
Saltman’s two playing partners in the event in Russia -- Marcus Higley and Stuart Davis, both of England -- also attended the disciplinary hearing. The two players believed that Saltman repeatedly placed his ball on the green in a slightly different spot from which he had picked it up. They discussed theit concerns with Saltman, and later with a tournament referee, and afterward declined to sign Saltman’s scorecard. After a post-round discussion involving the three players and the official, Saltman was disqualified.