That moved Thornton to within two shots of the current lead, held by Tjaart Van der Valt who was on six under through nine holes, as the man from Newcastle in County Down chases a maiden European Tour victory.
The hole in one came at the par three 11th hole courtesy of a perfect seven iron from 206 yards, his first as a professional. Indeed, Thornton came agonisingly close to equalling the course record of 64, but his eight foot birdie putt at the last slid just by the left of the hole.Nevertheless, the 36 year old was delighted with how he played in very windy conditions and cannot wait for the final day.
“That was obviously pretty good,” said Thornton, tongue in cheek. “I just played really well, hit some good shots and in weather like that you just have to keep straight and that’s what I do well.
“I was making greens and giving myself chances and I managed to take them today. The weather suits me, I like playing in a breeze. There were times when you could have hit any one of five clubs because the wind was unpredictable, but you just have to pick one and trust it.“I holed about a 30-footer for eagle at the ninth and then the hole in one. I was in between a seven iron and an eight iron and I hit a nice smooth seven and it was all over the flag, one big bounce and it just rolled in, it was really good shot.
“There were a few high fives and shouts, it was my first one in a professional tournament so I was delighted.
“I was most happy about the way I played 12 actually, because after that hole in one - it’s breezy and the blood can rush to your head a little - so it's easy to make bogey, but I hit a lovely drive there and hit to a few feet and holed it so that carried on the momentum.”Van der Walt, the joint overnight leader alongside Robert Dinwiddie, eagled the seventh and birdied the ninth to reach the turn on six under for the tournament, two clear of Thornton as well as Baptiste Chapellan and Daniel Gaunt, who were still out on the course.