Elliot Saltman set for 'frosty' return to European Tour

Elliot Saltman
Saltman was called out of the reserves and into the tournament on Sunday

Scot Elliot Saltman will return from a three-month European Tour ban at this week's Spanish Open in Barcelona.

The 29-year-old was suspended in January for a serious breach of the rules relating to the marking of his ball last September.

Saltman said: "I know there is a lot of sympathy for me amongst the players.

"I am sure that a few will give me a frosty reception. That will be difficult, but I will just have to live with it."

Saltman did not appeal against the suspension from European Tour and Challenge Tour events - the first since 1992 - after claims he marked his ball incorrectly at the Russian Challenge Cup.

But Saltman reiterated his innocence: "I wish to emphasise again that I do not cheat, have never cheated and do not believe I have done anything wrong," he said.

"It has been a terrible few months. To have people who don't know me and who know nothing about me go out in the media and question my honesty is really hurtful.

"To be accused of being a cheat is a terrible stigma and sadly is one that I will now almost certainly have to carry for the rest of my life."

Saltman, whose brother Lloyd also came through the qualifying school at the end of last season, was called out of the reserves and into the tournament on Sunday.

He has missed only one tournament during his suspension.

He would only have earned a place in the Sicilian Open in March and Ernie Els said: "That doesn't seem right to me - the punishment should fit the crime.

"Maybe there's been some leniency shown because it was a first offence, but if you play professional golf you should know how to mark a ball on the green.

"If he doesn't know or he doesn't understand then he needs to be taught it. I think he will be in for a hard time from other players."