An emotional Simon Thornton dedicated his maiden European Tour victory to his late father after the Irishman held his nerve to claim the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open title in a play-off and fittingly on Father’s Day.
Thornton (FJ Sport & StaSof) holed several tricky putts on the back nine but left his best till last on the final hole, as he drained a ten-foot putt to take it to extra holes.
Under the most intense of pressure, the 36 year old rolled it into the cup and clenched his fist in celebration as he signed for a one under par 70.
He kept his cool once again in the play-off, finding the fringe of the green, The Irishman then rolled a perfectly-weighted putt from 30 feet which slid just left of the hole, ensuring his par and most importantly the win.
“It’s so big for me,” said a tearful Thornton. “On father’s day too, he passed away three years ago and it still hurts, but they are happy tears today. This is dedicated to him.”
“I didn’t play particularly well today in perfect conditions but I got up and down when I had to and holed good putts.”
“I didn’t put myself in position very well so I was scrambling but my short game held up. I've been working hard on my short game for a couple of years now so I'm delighted. I changed my putter and my putting technique last week too so it all came together this week.”
“On the last putt – I had been saying to myself all day, if I'm going to make it easy for myself you need to try on every putt and make sure it goes where you want to hit it – so I just picked a line and willed it in and it dropped.”
Thornton’s rise is an incredible story of progression to the top of European golf against all odds, as he was a seven handicap golfer just over a decade ago.
Born in Bradford, England, he moved to Ireland to become an Assistant Professional at Royal County Down Golf Club before rising through the Irish professional ranks to the Challenge Tour and then The European Tour.
“Hopefully this is a stepping stone for me,” he said. “I’ll go home this week now and celebrate, take a week off, and then play in the Irish Open.
“Last year was a huge disappointment on The European Tour after getting there through the Challenge Tour.
“To come here and play like I did is incredible. What happens now with this category is fantastic; it’s mad how things have changed. It’s surreal.”
Mikko Ilonen cruised to a three shot victory at the Nordea Masters, winning his first European Tour title for six years at Bro Hof Slott.
The 33 year old, whose two previous victories came in 2007, the latter in this event, started the day two clear and an imposing display meant the gap was not closed, despite a hugely impressive 12 under weekend total from FJ Apparel Ambassador Bernd Wiesberger (FJ Sport & StaSof)
After turning in 34, Ilonen (FJ ICON & StaSof) then birdied the 11th from 12 feet, before his only set-back with a three-putt bogey at the long 12th. A sublime chip to three feet at the next quickly atoned for that error, and there were no dramas over the closing stretch.
A three under par 69 ensured a 21 under total and three shot victory margin for the Finn.
“It’s pretty special. I could feel a lot of support from Finland, especially today," said Ilonen,
Asked about his bogey at the 12th, he added: “I just got ahead of myself with the first putt. I’ve said for weeks now it doesn’t really bother me if I make a bogey because I know I can make it up and it was the first time I went for the 13th in two.”
Ilonen had been a runner-up in Morocco before finishing second to Brett Rumford in China already this season, and was pleased with the way he dealt with those disappointments.
“To bounce back this soon is really good,” he continued. “It’s really satisfying, but the show I saw in China - I didn’t lose the tournament, Brett won it, so hats off to him."
“Obviously I’ve been waiting for this moment for a few weeks now. People have been expecting me to win but most of all I’ve been expecting myself to win, so to pull it off here after those second places is very satisfying."
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Former Oklahoma State standout and US Amateur Champion, Peter Uihlein shot a final round of 68 to capture his first professional career victory at the Madeira Islands Open in Santo Da Serra, Portugal. Beginning the day one stroke behind leader Mark Tullo, Ulhlein opened with a bogey falling further behind. However, Uihlein fought back to even par for the front nine and continued to make four birdies in his final eight holes to reach 15 under par. The total gave him a two stroke victory over fellow FJ Staffers, Morten Orum Madsen and Mark Tullo.
Uihlein was ready for any conditions the seaside golf course could conjure in full line FJ Performance Apparel, DryJoys Tour golf shoes and the StaSof golf glove.
Uihlein stated post round, "To do it playing well on the back nine coming down the stretch is sweet. ... I just knuckled down, I guess. It was all putting that did it today; I was just trying to free up and they started to roll in, so it was nice."
Peter also spoke of his decision to join the European Tour instead of testing his game on the American circuit, "You grow up quick out here and that was the main reason I came over...It's been a good process so far and hopefully I can keep going."
This is Peter's third top ten in seven European Tour starts this season. The win also gives Uihlein European Tour Status through the 2014 season.
Madeira Islands Open SHOE COUNT:FJ - 66%Nearest Comp - 18%
Brett Rumford cruised to his second consecutive victory at the Volvo China Open. Rumford's three under par 33, on the front nine, increased his one stroke overnight lead to three. Competitors drew closer over the back nine, until Rumford posted birdies at 12, 13, and 14 to increase his lead to six. Rumford went on to post a four day total of 16 under par to win by four strokes over the competition.
The 35 year old, five time European Tour winner stated post round, "As with last week I’m kind of speechless at the moment." Continuing, “It’s quite surreal – it’s the first time I’ve actually played the week after a win so I’m more than pleased. It’s hard to get my head around it at the moment."
Rumford was cool and comfortable all week in head-to-toe FJ Performance Golf Apparel, FJ ICON, and SciFlex. Brett also became the 31st player to win consecutive titles on The European Tour.
Volvo China Open Shoe Count: FJ - 65%Nearest Comp - 17%Glove Count:FJ - 45%Nearest Comp - 15%
On the Asian Tour, fellow FJ Staffer and FJ Performance Apparel Ambassador Bernd Wiesberger locked down a one stroke victory at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters. Bernd shot a front nine 34 to climb the to top of the leaderboard.
The Austrian added an eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 16th to post a four day total of 273 or 15 under par across the nearly 7,400 yard Royale Jakarta Golf Club, the total left him one stroke clear of the competition. This is Bernd's first victory of the 2013 season and sixth international victory overall.
Bernd also wore FJ ICON and StaSof en route to his victory.
Winning is never easy on a professional tour, which Wiesberger understood stating post round, "I was struggling in the beginning after my birdie on one. But at the turn I got a bit of momentum going because I was confident with my ball striking.”
Billy Horschel claimed his first PGA Tour victory by tying the course record eight under par-64 to win the Zurich Classic. The 26-year old began the final day two strokes back of the lead and wasted little time catching the leaders, carding four birdies on the front nine for a 32. Continuing his red hot play, Horschel made consecutive birdies at 10, 11, and 12 to race to the top of the leaderboard.
Dropping a stroke at the 15th, Billy rebounded with a birdie at the following hole to keep the lead. Needing a birdie at the par five final hole to wrap up the victory, Horschel drained a 27 foot birdie bid and exploded into emotion at the realization that he is now a PGA Tour winner.
Horschel relied on FJ ICON MyJoys and StaSof throughout his breakthrough performance.
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