Believe it or not, the 2014 European Tour season gets underway this month with the South Africa Open Championship on November 21.
While the world’s big earners battle it out for more millions in Asia, the tour’s rank and file have already begun their pre-season preparations.
News Letter columnist Michael Hoey has decamped to the warmer climes of Dubai to hone his game but Simon Thornton has decided to stay closer to home.
Victory at the 2013 Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open back in June earned the Yorshire born golfer a precious one year exemption and affords him the luxury of planning a schedule in advance.
“I always had a [Tour]card off Tour School or Challenge Tour which meant that I was always waiting to the last minute to find out where I would be playing,” said the Newcastle based professional.
“To be able to plan is going to be huge.”
Thornton wrapped up his 2013 campaign with an eighth place finish in Portugal and hopes to take that form with him into 2014.
He added; “Once I got my win at St Omer my focus was already on next year.
“It gave me a bit of time to get used to playing again on the main tour so that when the season starts I can hopefully hit the ground running as opposed to starting all over the game.
“I finished the season strongly and came pretty close to winning in Italy and Portugal.
“I just need to try and hold it at that level. It’s all about consistency.”
The 36-year-old has commited to a busy early season which will take in tournaments in South Africa, Hong Kong and the middle east.
He realises he has to make the most of those events and thankfully, a thumb injury which flared up at the European Masters in early September, will not require surgery.
“The thumb is not too bad . It’s not going to get any better and it’s not going to get any worse,” he said.
“I have some exercises to do to build it up. I just strap it up and keep going.”