Sport

Thornton earns deserved break after Carton House performance

Tony McGee

SIMON Thornton will take his family off on a Portuguese holiday shortly in a much better frame of mind after winning the 36-holes PGA Challenge, staged at Carton House in association with Johnston, Mooney & O’Brien. He carded a second round three-under-par 70, yesterday, for a tournament total of 138, writes Tony McGee.

The Huddersfield-born and Newcastle, Co Down-based Thornton lost his European Tour Card at the end of last season and has been playing between the Challenge, Euro and Irish Tours this year with mixed feelings.

“The big difference for me, today, was that mentally I was in the right place, I was in tune with what I needed to do,” he said.

For the last nine months my head has not been in it. I have been down on myself and not playing well.

“I was talking to a couple of the guys, after Monday’s pro-am, and it kind of gave me a kick up the rump when they said they would love to be doing what I’m doing.”

The 38-year-old started the second round with a one shot lead over Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance Ltd) and Daniel Beattie (Deer Park Hotel Golf & Spa) and made a positive start. He collected birdies at three of his opening five holes to extend his advantage.

A dropped shot at the par four eighth saw him to the turn in two-under-35 and he cemented his grip on the tournament by collecting further birdies at the 10th and 11th holes.

With a healthy lead he could afford not to take any chances over his closing holes, and even a dropped shot at the par three 14th failed to derail his victory march.

Moriarty came home in two-under-34 on his way to a second round 71 that saw him finish alone in second place two strokes behind the winner.

Thornton will now take his young family off to Portugal for a week’s holiday, the first time in five years he will be away without his clubs.

Scoreboard

PGA Challenge Tournament at Carton House 

Leading Scores: 138 (-8) – S Thornton (Team Ireland) 68,70.

140 – C Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance Ltd) 69,71.

143 – C McNamara (Monkstown) 72,71.

144 – D Beattie (Deer Pk Hotel) 609,75.

145 – N Fox (GUI National Academy) 76,69; D Higgins (Waterville) 72,73.

146 – N Manchip (GUI Nationals Academy) 75,71; Hazel Kavanagh (Carr Golf Services) 71,75.

147 – N Murray (Massereene) 78,69; D Mooney (Ballyliffin) 76,71; G Robinson (Wexford) 76,71.

There was plenty of red figures on the scoreboard yesterday evening after the second qualifying round in the Ulster Boys’ Open Championship, at Castlerock, as 54 players made it though to the final two strokeplay rounds today.

Topping the leaderboard last night was Conor Purcell from Portmarnock who added a two-under-par 73 to his opening 75 of Tuesday. That left Purcell on regulation 146, two shots ahead of four players, including David Brady (Co Sligo), who caused a surprise by qualifying for the West of Ireland Championship.

First round leader, with a 75, was Gareth Hogan from The Island but he lost ground as he posted an 80 second time out but he still made it safely into today’s final action in joint 13th position.

The cut fell at 161 with one unfortunate player on that score missing out among the 54 who continue in the tournament. Tyrone Clarke with 78 and 81 safely qualified in 30th place.

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