Simon Thornton shot a breathtaking opening round of 60 for 11 under par on the opening day of The Northern Ireland Masters hosted by Jonathan Caldwell at Clandeboye Golf Club. Supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council, Tourism NI, Sport NI, and the N.I Executive.
Thornton (Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort) got into the tournament on the back of an invite and the former European Tour winner took full advantage with an opening round of 11 under par for 60.
The Irishman went out in 29 (-6) putting the £59,000 for a 59 on watch heading into the back nine. Thornton complemented his early run of birdies with an eagle at 15 followed by birdies at 16, 17, and 18 to put down a humongous gauntlet.
Thornton: “I suppose I got off to a good start. I hit a good tee shot on the first and I had 70 yards into the flag. And then on you just roll with it. I was striking it lovely. I was six under after seven and you get to a stage where it’s new territory for everybody at any level. So I was still playing it lovely tee to green. I wouldn’t say the putter went cold but I had a couple of lip-outs. I then holed one right across the green at 15 from 45 feet. I then started as I finished and rolled them in.”
“I wasn’t quite sure if I was six under after seven or five under after six. I got a bit muddled. That was quite good as I tried to just freewheel. I kept saying to myself to pick my target and go through my pre-shot routine and just let it happen.”
“It’s only an hour from home. Ross is a member here my caddy and we’ve played here a little bit over the last year or so. It’s a good golf course, you have to hit every club in the bag. It’s a pleasure to play here.” Until Thornton hit the course, Jack South (Tippity Green GC / Taymar Homes) looked to be the score to catch after signing for an opening-round 65 (-6) on the first day where conditions blew and plenty turned out to see the action in Bangor. South was three under at the turn before adding birdies at 12, 13, 15, and 18 recovering from a bogey at the Par 4, 16th. Scoring overall though was tough despite the course record set by Thornton. Callum Farr and Joe Brooks signed for opening rounds of 66 (-5) to be tied for third after one round. Brooks’ back nine was something to behold with two bogies, five birdies, and an eagle whilst Farr was in for 31 after taking the front nine in level par. Home favourite, Caldwell went out just before 8:30 am and with a strong backing produced a 69 (-2). A score he will only be too happy with after highlighting earlier on in the week of the pressures of playing in front of his own club members and locals. Tomorrow The second round will take place before the cut is made to the leading 50 players plus ties before one final round in front of a sell-out crowd on Friday. There is limited availability for free tickets for tomorrow, get your free ticket here.
Highlights from The Northern Ireland Masters hosted by Jonathan Caldwell at Clandeboye Golf Club will air on Sky Sports Golf on Tuesday, 31 August at 6 pm with several other showings over the following days.