First tour win for pro golfer Simon

Nicholas Thornton, Diane Thornton, Ciara and Simon Thornton
Nicholas Thornton, Diane Thornton, Ciara and Simon Thornton

Professional golfer Simon Thornton has claimed his first win on the European Tour in memory of his dad.

Simon, who turned professional in 2005, earned a European Tour card for the first time in November 2009 allowing him to compete at the highest level in his chosen sport.

His Brighouse family looked forward to a successful year ahead but that wasn’t to be. On January 2, 2010, his father Stephen died from a red blood cell disorder, the night before Simon was due to fly over to South Africa for his first event, the PGA European Tour.

But three years later on father’s Day he beat Tjaart van der Walt on the first play-off hole at the St Omer Open.

The leaders both fired closing 70s to finish on five under, one shot clear of Englishman Steve Benson who had led at one point himself.

That meant they had to back up the 18th and while Simon claimed a routine par with a tap-in, Van der Walt bogeyed the hole for the first time to hand him the title.

Simon who now lives in Newcastle in Northern Ireland said: “It’s so big for me and on Father’s Day too. He passed away three years ago and it still hurst, but they are happy tears today. This is dedicated to him.”

He added: “Hopefully this is a stepping stone for me.”

His mum Diane said: “It was very emotional for us all. His father would have been so proud of him.

“Last weekend he was playing in the Irish Open tourament at Carton House golf club where he finished in 18th.”

Stephen’s final wish was that his son should get the opportunity to compete at the highest level. He died at the age of 60.

Diane said at the time: “Stephen was so delighted that Simon had won a place to compete in South Africa. He was in hospital but he was able to squeeze Simon’s hand and tell him that he wanted him to go. It was Simon’s lifetime goal and Stephen was so proud of him.”

Mr Thornton was a well-known figure in the brass band world. In his playing career he appeared with the best bands in the north of England and he was a keen supporter and judge of the annual Brighouse Lions’ band contest. Tributes have been paid to the cornet player whose skill with the instrument earned him places with Brighouse and Rastrick, Hammond’s Sauce Works Band, Black Dyke and James Shepherd Versatile Brass.