Sport Golf

Friday 23 February 2018

Thornton gets off to flyer

Karl T Jones

SIMON THORNTON sparkled on a day of attrition at Celtic Manor, leaving behind the frustration of a mediocre 2012 season with a superb first-round 69 at the ISPS Handa Wales Open.

Thornton (35) has made the cut just twice in seven outings on Tour this year. Yet he performed sublimely in the gales which howled across the 2010 Course yesterday, moving into fourth place, two shy of leader Lee Slattery.

The 67 posted by Englishman Slattery (33) was special indeed in harrowing conditions. With fairways running fast, greens hard and several forbidding pins, there were more than 20 scores in the 80s and one in the 90s, while a handful had a 10 on their card ... Gary Boyd had two.

Prominent among the strugglers were defending champion Alex Noren and Ireland's Shane Lowry, both of whom shot 81. The Clara man, who failed to land a birdie as he matched his worst round in three years on Tour, was hampered by a viral infection contracted at Wentworth last week and withdrew from the tournament.

Thornton was born in Bradford but acquired a good wind game (and Irish citizenship) during 10 years in Newcastle, Co Down. He bogeyed the first but picked up four birdies on the way out before his putter cooled on the back nine. Damien McGrane shared 12th on even par after his battling 71, while Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie played nicely but grappled with the putter as rounds of 72 left them just outside the top 20.

Wales Open,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 10.30 and 3.30

Irish Independent

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