Simon Thornton claims maiden win in St Omer

Irishman beat South African Tjaart Van Der Walt on first play-off hole in France

Simon Thornton of Ireland secured his maiden Tour win in the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open at St Omer Golf Course, France. Photograph:  Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Simon Thornton of Ireland secured his maiden Tour win in the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open at St Omer Golf Course, France. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 21:39

Simon Thornton claimed his first win on the European Tour when he beat Tjaart van der Walt on the first play-off hole at the St Omer Open.

With many of the Tour’s big names at Merion for the US Open, this tournament had slipped somewhat under the radar but Thornton and Van der Walt provided some high drama in northern France.

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

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

Thornton’s cheque of €83,330 almost doubled his biggest payday on tour prior to this weekend - when he took €42,400 home from Wentworth in 2010 - and very nearly surpassed the €88,599 he won last season.

“It’s so big for me,” Thornton said. “On father’s day, too. He passed away three years ago and it still hurts, but they are happy tears today. This is dedicated to him.

“On the last putt — I had been saying to myself all day, if I’m going to make it easy for myself I need to try on every putt and make sure it goes where you want to hit it — so I just picked a line and willed it in and it dropped.”

“Hopefully this is a stepping stone for me. I’ll go home this week now and celebrate, take a week off, and then play in the Irish Open.”

He got off to a flying start with birdies at the first and third before a dropped shot at four. The Irishman dropped a shot at seven but quickly recovered it at the next before a further bogey on nine got him to the turn in level-par 36.

He then birdied 10 and parred all the way home to finish on five under.

Van der Walt also birdied the first but dropped the shot at five before a double bogey at eight sandwiched by two birdies kept him level for the front nine.

A further birdie on 12 followed but a run of pars saw the South African into the play-off.

Benson had threatened to gatecrash the party but a bogey on 16 proved vital as he finished on four under.

Fellow Englishman Robert Dinwiddie was next on two under after a remarkable round which saw him record just six pars.

The 30-year-old had four birdies and four bogeys through 14 holes before he followed a double on 15 with three closing birdies.

Swede Pelle Edberg and another Englishman in Chris Lloyd were the only other players to finish under par as they sat a further shot back.

Dane Jeppe Huldahl was one of three players on level-par after a round which contained a run of six consecutive birdies from the fifth to the 10th but also a triple-bogey seven at the third.

Scotland’s Gary Orr fired the round of the day as a 67 saw him finish one over while Frenchman Baptiste Chapellan, who had begun the day level with Thornton and Van der Walt, fired a six-over par 77 to finish on two over.

Northern Irishman Gareth Shaw closed with a level-par 71 to finish two over.

Collated final round scores from theNajeti Hotels et Golfs Open at St Omer Golf Course, St Omer, France.

(Gbr & Irl unless stated, Irish in bold, par 71)

279 Simon Thornton 74 70 65 70 (Thornton won in the first play-off hole), Tjaart Van Der Walt (Rsa) 67 71 71 70

280 Seve Benson 75 65 70 70

282 Robert Dinwiddie 72 66 74 70

283 Pelle Edberg (Swe) 74 69 69 71, Chris Lloyd 73 68 70 72

284 Jeppe Huldahl (Den) 73 67 73 71, Agustin Domingo (Spa) 74 71 68 71, Victor Riu (Fra) 68 71 72 73

285 Jamie Elson 75 69 68 73, Brooks Koepka (USA) 75 70 68 72, Gary Orr 73 71 74 67, Daniel Gaunt (Aus) 70 70 75 70, Max Glauert (Ger) 77 65 69 74

286 Gareth Shaw 76 69 70 71, Mikael Lundberg (Swe) 73 71 71 71, Daniel Vancsik (Arg) 73 67 75 71, Sihwan Kim (Nor) 73 71 73 69, Baptiste Chapellan (Fra) 72 68 69 77, Scott Henry 72 69 74 71, Francois Calmels (Fra) 73 71 71 71

287 Thomas Norret (Den) 75 69 74 69, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 74 70 70 73, Daniel Brooks 69 71 76 71, Rhys Davies 77 67 71 72, Justin Walters (Rsa) 71 69 75 72, Alexandre Kaleka (Fra) 73 71 71 72

288 Christophe Brazillier (Fra) 75 70 73 70, Anthony Snobeck (Fra) 76 69 72 71

289 Roope Kakko (Fin) 72 71 77 69, Luke Goddard 75 67 76 71, Simon Wakefield 71 68 77 73

290 Richard McEvoy 71 71 74 74, Gary Stal (Fra) 75 68 76 71, Paul Dwyer 73 70 78 69, Jose-Filipe Lima (Por) 74 71 72 73, Tyrrell Hatton 75 67 74 74, Gary Boyd 76 68 75 71, Alessandro Tadini (Ita) 73 71 75 71, Michael Jonzon (Swe) 74 70 70 76, Charles-edouard Russo (Fra) 73 72 73 72

291 Jamie McLeary 75 70 76 70, Daniel Im (USA) 73 72 69 77, Chris Hanson 71 68 77 75, Andrew Marshall 74 68 76 73, Taco Remkes (Ned) 75 70 76 70, Mathieu Decottignies Lafon (Fra) 75 69 75 72, Sam Little 74 70 78 69

292 Alastair Forsyth 73 70 76 73, Jordi Garcia pinto (Spa) 73 68 78 73, Jerome Lando casanova (Fra) 73 72 72 75, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 74 70 74 74, Florian Praegant (Aut) 73 70 75 74

293 Garry Houston 74 70 76 73, Damien Perrier (Fra) 77 66 76 74, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 73 70 76 74

294 Ake Nilsson (Rsa) 71 74 73 76, Edouard Dubois (Fra) 71 74 71 78, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 74 68 77 75

295 Marco Crespi (Ita) 75 68 82 70, Carl Suneson (Spa) 72 71 75 77

296 Tom Murray 75 70 78 73, Thomas Fournier (Fra) 71 71 79 75, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 71 72 76 77

297 Raul Quiros (Spa) 75 70 76 76, Paul Maddy 72 72 78 75

298 Oscar Floren (Swe) 72 71 77 78

303 Lionel Weber (Fra) 75 70 80 78