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Saltman grabs Madeira lead

Lloyd Saltman fired an 8-under 64 on Thursday and grabbed the first-round lead at the Madeira Islands Open.

The 64 matched a career best for Saltman, who played alongside Rory McIlroy at the 2007 Walker Cup.

"I'm very pleased with my round," said Saltman. "It wasn't easy out there today, with the wind swirling and getting very strong at certain points. I just played really well tee to green and made the putts I needed to make and my short game was really good as well, so I can't really pick any faults from that round."

Richard Bland is in second place after a 6-under 66 at Club de Golf do Santo da Serra, while Craig Lee, Mark Tullo and Joakim Lagergren share third place at 5-under 65.

Defending champion Ricardo Santos, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 145 in the world, carded five bogeys before finally picking up a birdie at the last for a 4-over 76.

Saltman was the first player off on the first tee and he set an unmatchable pace with four birdies in his first five holes. He added another birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 5-under.

The Scotsman birdied again at the 11th before stumbling to a bogey at the par-4 12th, when he accidentally hit the wrong wedge into the green.

"It's a short hole and I was only going in with a wedge, but for the first time in my life I actually took the wrong club out," he admitted. "I hit the shot and it was only when I gave the club back to my caddie I realized I hit a 58 degree instead of a 54. I have never done that, but I was so into the number and the shot I didn't even look at the club and it went into the bunker."

Saltman promptly bounced back with a birdie on the 13th, then turned the trick again at Nos. 16 and 18 to hit the clubhouse with a lead which was never threatened.

"I have put myself in a great position and I'm here to win," the 27-year-old continued. "I've been working very hard trying to get my game as good as I can and it's nice to see the work paying off."

NOTES: Saltman carded a 64 in the second round of the 2012 Nordea Masters ... Nine of the past 10 champions at this event have been first-time European Tour winners ... This event is running simultaneously with the World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria.