Tuesday 12 December 2017

Thornton on leaders' tail as Lowry rallies

Bernie McGuire

Less than a week after Graeme McDowell captured the US Open, fellow Ulsterman Simon Thornton is on the verge of breaking through for a first Tour success after moving to 10-under par after two rounds of the BMW International Open in Munich.

The 33-year-old former Royal Co Down assistant professional carded a second straight 67 to leave himself tied for fifth place, just three strokes behind leader Bradley Dredge, who also signed for a five-under-par score.

Yorkshire-born Thornton married an Irish woman and has been a resident of Newcastle since 1997. It's only been this season, after five attempts, that he has earned full Tour membership. He proudly wears a Team Ireland Golf logo on his shirt sleeve.

Thornton dropped just one stroke in his round and once again benefited from a 'two-thumb' putting grip -- there were only 24 putts in his round, after Thursday's tally of 25.

"This is my first taste of really being in contention and I am looking forward to the weekend," he said. "But then I am treating it as just another two rounds of golf."

Thornton capped his round by holing a 15-yard bunker shot for birdie at his eighth hole.

Peter Lawrie is next best of the Irish but carded a 73 to fall to five-under par while Irish Open champion Shane Lowry turned around a day-one 74 to make the cut with a second-round 66.

Lowry birdied three holes in succession from his 12th and then made sure of an eighth straight pay cheque this season with a birdie at the last.

However, Paul McGinley (71), Darren Clarke (72), Michael Hoey (72), Damien McGrane (70) and Gary Murphy (75) all missed the halfway cut.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the Scottish Open in two weeks' time, joining former Loch Lomond champions Ernie Els and Lee Westwood. All three have cited tiredness for their decisions.

And former US Open and Irish winner Michael Campbell's career takes another turn for the poorer after the release of the draw for Tuesday's 36-hole British Open qualifier at Kingsbarns.

Campbell is the only former Major champion competing at the four venues near St Andrews. Several Irish players, including Waterville's David Higgins and Birr's Colm Moriarty, are also looking to qualify.

BMW International Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, from 1.30

Irish Independent

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