Date: June 16, 2013
Author: Omnisport

Thornton shares Najeti lead after hole-in-one

Simon Thornton carded the first hole-in-one of his professional career, on his way to a six-under-par 65 at the Najeti Open on Saturday. His round included three birdies and two eagles, which put him into a three-way tie for the lead with Baptiste Chapellan and Tjaart van der Walt, at four under. Windy conditions belied the clear skies at the Saint Omer Golf Club in Lumbres, France. But the gusts could not prevent the Irishman holing the 206-yard par-three 11th from the tee, as spectators and playing partners alike congratulated the feat. Just two holes previously he carded an eagle at the ninth, he also picked up birdies at 11 and 15 as he climbed 34 places on the leaderboard on day three. Thornton was just one stroke away from equalling the course record of 64, but an eight-foot putt at the 18th went agonisingly wide of the cup. “That was pretty good stuff,” the Irishman said. “I just played really well, hit some good shots and in weather like that you just have to keep straight and that&aposs what I do well. “I holed about a 30-footer for eagle at the ninth and then the hole in one – I was in between a seven iron and an eight iron and I hit a nice smooth seven and it was all over the flag, one big bounce and it just rolled in. It was a really good shot. “There were a few high fives and shouts, it was my first one in a professional tournament so I was delighted.” Van der Walt, who has been in at least a share of the lead on all three days, was set to take a three-shot advantage into the final day. But a double-bogey at 16, followed by another dropped shot on the following hole saw his progress halted. After going out in 34, he came home in 37 to shoot a level-par 71. “I actually played better than I did yesterday and I don&apost feel too disappointed after that,” Van der Walt said. “I gave myself a lot of chances and I&aposm really hitting some good golf shots.” Frenchman Chapellan was supported by his home crowd throughout, and birdies at seven, eight and 17 rounded off a steady day for a player appearing in just his sixth European Tour event. A bogey at 15 was the only blemish on his card. Englishman Seve Benson shot a one-under-par 70 and sits in outright fourth position, while compatriot Robert Dinwiddie, who had a share of the lead after round two, struggled to a three-over-par 74 to slip to tied eighth.