Thornton finds his swing at the Manor
Simon Thornton is probably the least known of the nine-man Irish party at the Wales Open, but he carded the best first round score yesterday as he recorded a three-under-par 68 at Celtic Manor.
The 33-year-old English-born, Royal County Down assistant pro benefited from correcting a swing fault last week, which had resulted in him missing three halfway cuts over the past three weeks.
" It's been a case of getting back to square one," said Thornton, who has had an Irish passport for several years.
Graeme McDowell, fresh off fourth place at last week's Madrid Masters, could only manage a one-over-par 72, marred mainly by a double bogey at the par three 13th.
But he felt he had played better than that. "I didn't really enjoy the greens too much. They had a good surface, but they were a bit slow and they ran terribly. I made nothing," he said.
Tournament favourite Luke Donald, winner in Madrid and second at Wentworth a week earlier, carded a disappointing 75. Chris Wood led after a six under par round of 65.
Darren Clarke showed a welcome burst of form, three birdies in the last four holes giving him a 69.
Gareth Maybin -- who has recovered from a minor wrist problem which forced him out last week -- and Damien McGrane played together and also shot 69, both with three birdies and one bogey on their cards.
Shane Lowry, aided by chip-ins for birdies at the third and fifth holes, carded a 70, while Peter Lawrie and Paul McGinley both shot 72.
Live, Sky Sports 3, 10.30