Thornton: I can't help falling in love with Elvis, king of the greens
SIMON THORNTON drew on more than a decade of experience on the windswept links at Royal Co Down during the first-round 70 at the Volvo Golf Champions which showed this polished 36-year-old is very much at home among the European Tour elite.
Thornton also got a little help from Elvis -- an African caddie who is expert at reading heavily grained greens which may leave quite a few of the competitors all shook up over the next few days at Royal Durban.
Actually, two 'Kings' are working at this tournament: Richard Sterne's regular caddie, a fellow South African, also goes by the name 'Elvis'.
Thornton explains he was introduced to his temporary bagman, who hails from Swaziland, by fellow Tour professional Damien McGrane, who apparently has known the wonder of this Elvis for some time.
"I don't know if he sings or dances like Elvis, somehow I doubt it, but that's the name he goes by," Thornton explained with a smile. "He's great at reading greens.
"You know your clubs yourself in the wind, it's a five, a six or a seven, but when it comes to reading the grainy greens, that's a different matter," added the Co Down stalwart, who is in the process of changing his regular caddie.
Starting next week in Abu Dhabi, Thornton will link up with Adam Morrow -- at Ross Fisher's side when he won the 2012 Portugal Masters -- for a three-week trial during the Tour's Middle East Swing.
Thornton was looking forward yesterday to his first decent night's sleep since arriving in Durban and a lie-in this morning ... that splendid opening gambit propelled him into a share of fifth place on two-under an 11.50 tee time.
His maiden Tour victory at St Omer last June earned Thornton his card for 2014 and gave the Bradford-born golfer this week's opportunity to measure himself over 72 holes against Europe's finest, plus a bumper payday, in this week's annual tournament of champions.
He flourished yesterday as the going got tough in driving crosswinds. "The conditions were difficult but, coming from Royal Co Down, I play in wind most of the time, so it suited my game down to the ground," he said.
After a three-week Christmas break at home in Newcastle, Thornton wants to build on the momentum achieved last year.
"I've been taking an upward curve. The key now is to continue that. This tournament is a perfect start to the year," he said.
"One of these every month would be great. All the players here are big names and it's great to go out with them, give it a go and see what happens. I've nothing to lose."