Simon Thornton in action in the 2011 Irish Open in Killarney. Picture/www.golffile.ieSimon Thornton is keeping his fingers crossed for a special double-delivery this Saturday. The County Down professional wants to clinch his European Tour card in the final round of the Challenge Tour’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final. But he knows his concentration will be tested to the limit with his wife Ciara due to give birth to the couple’s second child that day.

“Were expecting baby number two this Saturday so hopefully Ciara will hold on again,” said the 34-year old, who is 15th in the Challenge Tour rankings with the top 20 earning European Tour cards following the 45-man, season ending finale in southern Italy.

“Our little girl is 18 months old now and I was away in Madeira for that birth as well. Hopefully we will have a double celebration.”

Thornton wants to finish in the Top-10 in the final Challenge Tour rankings who earn category 10b status on the European Tour for the 2012 season, guaranteeing him more starts than the players finishing from 11th to 20th.

The reigning Irish PGA champion is just €7,378 behind 10th ranked Julien Quesne, which means he will need to finish 10th at worst this week to have any chance of making a big move in the money list.

“I haven’t looked at anything,” said Thornton, who knows that winning will take care of everything. “There is no point in looking at where you have to finish because you have to finish as high as you can and the rest will take care of itself.

“It’s been a good season so far so hopefully I can finish it off. Neil Manchip helped me before the Irish Open on the mental game, keeping me on the straight and narrow, so I keep in contact with Neil.

“It’s certainly helped my game and I have concentrated on my rounds and setting mini goals rather than the final goal.”

Thornton did gain a card for The European Tour in 2010 before finishing 141st in The Race to Dubai, his best finish coming at the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany, where he finished ninth.

And if he wins this week it would top off an impressive run of form for the Newcastle-based player, who has divided his time between the European Tour and the Challenge Tour this year.

Since August, he has earned three top five finishes on the Challenge Tour, finishing fifth in the Norwegian Challenge before following that up with a third place finish at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open.

His best finish of the season came two weeks later, at the ALLIANZ Golf Open Grand Toulouse, where he just missed out on his maiden Challenge Tour title, finishing runner-up to Sam Little.


“I’ve played better coming towards the end of the season and that’s generally how it goes for me, I tend to have a slow start and then pick it up towards the end of the season; but I’ve had a couple of good results now,” he said.

“I’ve only played 11 events on the Challenge Tour, so I’m happy enough to be where I am now. I had a spell where I was playing well on The European Tour, but I’ve come in to this week with everything to play for.

“My game is good, I did quite a bit of work back home and got the game back in shape. The course doesn’t run that much but there is a bit of a ‘linksy’ feel to it, which suits me, coming from Royal County Down, especially if the wind picks up.”

Thornton says he has yet to decide whether or not he will go to PGA Golf de Catalunya for December’s Q-School if he fails to make a move into the Challenge Tour Top-10 this week. He’s got more than enough on his plate.

When his daughter was born during the Madeira Islands Open 18 months agom. he was fourth with a round to go i but finished 13th in the end after a closing 75.

This time he’s hoping to come home and greet the new arrival with a European Tour card under his arm.