Newcastle based professional golfer Simon Thornton has confirmed he could be playing in this year’s Irish Open.
The Royal County Down (RCD) in Newcastle will host the prestigious event in May.
Simon hopes to obtain one of the eight wildcards that would see him playing against Rory McIlroy et al. at the world famous club.
But Thornton’s performance last year could scupper his chances:
“If the RCD were holding the event in any of the last three years then I would have got in no problem but last year I didn’t play as well as I could have”, he said.
Simon explained that all he can do now is wait:
“I have to go through the protocol. You have to ask the European Tour, who during the tournament will take over the golf club.
“I will have people putting for me within the club and I would like to think I would be chosen. I will know sometime within the next month.”
Simon eulogises the RCD which he came to work for 17 years ago:
“I don’t think there is anywhere quite like it in the world of golf. There’s just something different about it, it has a mystique. You can’t describe it, it’s just there.
This is the first major tournament held at RCD for some time. The club last hosted the Irish Open in 1939.
But the Bolton native is quick to dismiss any suggestions that RCD lags behind Royal Portrush in the Northern Ireland golfing scene:
“It’s (Royal Portrush) the most dominant in the way it markets itself. It’s just the way the RCD likes to be, they keep themselves to themselves, they’re more traditional.”
He also suggested that the Newcastle course could hold the British Open in the future, citing its proximity to Belfast, high standard of accommodation and Newcastle’s current renaissance:
“Its certainly a thriving place now and its great. People seem more involved, it’s a real buzzing little town.”
Thornton who travels the world playing in major tournaments feels this one eclipses the rest:
“I will be very disappointed if I don’t get on. It’s not often you get to play in such a prestigious event and in your home golf club.
“With Rory being heavily involved and the quality of the talent that’s coming, it would be unbelievable to play in that, its’s like a major”, he said.
But Thornton says he will not be watching from the sidelines if he is not chosen:
“I wouldn’t be involved. My living is playing golf so if I don’t play in the Irish open I’ll be playing somewhere else. The Czech Challenge tournament is on that week so I won’t even be in the town”.
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