Ireland’s Simon Thornton among leaders in Portugal
The 36-year-old shot a 65 at the Oceanico Victoria to share lead on six under par
Chris Wood of England hits his tee-shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course in Faro, Portugal. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
The Bradford-born golfer carded a 31 on the way to in to sign for a six-under-par 65 at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Club, that him in a five-way tie with Felipe Aguilar of Chile, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, England’s David Lynn and Alvaro Quiros of Spain.
Thornton reached the turn in 34 after birdies at five and eight, and a bogey at the ninth, but he made the real ground up from the 12th where he carded the first of four consecutive birdies.
A seventh birdie at the last saw him join the leaders in the clubhouse.
Donaldson had reached seven under before three-putting the eighth, his penultimate hole, for his only bogey of the day, while Lynn picked up three shots in his last five holes.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey is three under, thanks to a 68, but defending champion Shane Lowry, third in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the end of September, had to settle for a one-under-par 70. He found himself alongside Damien McGrane and one ahead of David Higgins and European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
A relaxed approach to the pressure of trying to keep his card paid off for Chris Doak. The Scot is 112th on the Race to Dubai, with only the top 110 after next week’s Perth International keeping their full playing privileges for 2014.
The 35-year-old from Glasgow has not managed a single top-10 finish all season but carded a flawless opening 67, four under par, to lie two shots off the joint leaders.
“It’s a great start,” Doak told Sky Sports. “I said to myself three under each day you would be round about there so it’s a good start.
“It’s the total opposite this week to the rest of the season, just try to relax a bit more. I felt over the season I have been trying too hard when I have been up there. I came here on Sunday and had a few days to get used to the course and conditions.
“If anybody says they don’t know what number they are (on the money list) they might be lying. You’ve got to know. For me I like to know what I have to do but it’s just a different attitude this week which has been working so far.”
Robert Coles is also struggling to keep his card and matched Doak’s 67, but the Englishman will have had mixed emotions after leading by three shots when he played his first 12 holes in seven under par.
Coles, currently 164th on the Race to Dubai, then bogeyed the 13th and found water off the tee on the next to run up a double-bogey six before closing with four pars. The 41-year-old has managed just one top-20 finish all season - in the very first event in South Africa which was reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather - and is still looking for his first European Tour victory in more than 360 events.