The Challenge Tour season finally gets underway on Thursday which has come as something of a relief for Simon Thornton.
The Newcastle based professional endured a miserable 2014 season, ultimately losing his playing privileges on the European Tour.
The 38-year-old hoped to get a couple of invites into some early season European Tour events but when those failed to materialise he turned to the Ulster PGA region events to stay sharp.
“I’ve hopefully shaken off the disappointment of last year,” said Thornton, a winner of the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC in 2013.
“Looking back it was the first time in 10 years that I had a poor year.
“Every season up to 2014 had seen progression. I was playing better, my results were getting better and I moved up the tours.
“I really expected to keep my card last year but I just didn’t play well enough but if you look at my career as a whole last year was hopefully just a blip.”
This week’s Madeira Islands Open – BPI – Portugal, a co-sanctioned event with the European Tour offers an immediate way back to the big time, with the winner earning a one year exemption.
Simon will be joined on the picturesque Portuguese island by Kevin Phelan, Peter Lawrie, Ruaidhri McGee and Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin.
Maybin will be hoping to replicate the success of Michael Hoey who won this tournament back in 2011.