It is the final week in February and he’s done it again. Andy Sullivan has won the European tours Joburg Open, co sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour. Sullivan’s second triumph of the 2015 season, following his win at the South African Open, has firmly consolidated his place among the best players on the European tour. It has also earned him one of the three coveted spots at this year’s Open Championship on offer this week.
Sullivan started the day three shots behind the overnight leader Wallie Coetsee but soon turned up the heat on his opponents and was well and truly in the hunt. He made his first birdie on the opening par 3 second. This was no mean feat, seeing as it measured at a cool 254 yards. Most of us mere mortals would have been ‘riding the bull’ Happy Gilmore style after conquering the monster par 3 but Sullivan calmly pressed on. He made birdie at the 4th, holing a breaking 30 foot putt for a three. Then birdies at the 6th, 8th and 9th saw him reach the turn in 32. He had taken the lead.
Many things cross a players mind when they take the lead of a tournament, you go through your winning speech, the things it will lead too, what will be your celebratory drink of choice… All very important questions of course, but usually not helpful when trying to close out a win and, as we have all seen oh too often, can have catastrophic consequences.
I played for the same county team as Sullivan and he has a strong following back in Warwickshire. However, I’m sure there was a long silence from his watching supporters before he holed his crucial putt for bogey on the 11th. This dropped him behind former Ryder cup star, David Howell who has begun to show signs of his past form returning.
Like a true champion Sullivan held his nerve and produced birdies at the 15th and 18th seeing him capture his second European tour title and move to seventh in the Race to Dubai. Not bad for a man working in a supermarket just a few short years ago.
Sullivan’s years of grafting on the practice ground of Nuneaton golf club in all weathers dreaming of winning tournaments, playing in majors and fulfilling his potential are coming true. This win may have also catapulted him into the top 50 in the world and potentially put him in position to make his debut at The Masters.
Sullivan deserves it all, however, the world forgets what could have been if things hadn’t gone so well… Something to ponder on perhaps? For now he remains a beacon of hope to those aspiring amateurs and proof that dreams can come true.
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