FOUR years after using events at Blairgowrie and Royal Aberdeen to lay some solid foundations for his career, Andy Sullivan is on course to cap a fairytale season in style. While Rory McIlroy remains in pole position to be crowned as European No 1 for the third time in five years in Dubai, the 29-year-old Englishman holds the halfway lead in the DP World Tour Championship.
A second successive 66 for a 12-under-par total left Sullivan one ahead of Argentine Emiliano Grillo, who posted a day’s best 64 in the company of McIlroy. The world No 3 felt he was stuck “somewhere between third and fourth gear” in carding a 68 to sit four shots off the lead. Already the only player to win three times on the European Tour this season, Sullivan could take his official earnings for the year to almost £2 million with the first prize of £875,000 and his share of the £4m bonus pool shared between the top 15 players on the Race to Dubai.
Not bad for a man who was in the shadow of compatriot Tom Lewis when they helped Great Britain & Ireland win the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, where Sullivan lost to Jordan Spieth in the second-day singles. One of the performances that helped Sullivan make that team came at Blairgowrie, where he finished birdie-eagle-birdie to win the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship.
As Lewis enjoyed instant success in the paid ranks, winning the Portugal Masters on his third European Tour start, Sullivan spent two years stacking shelves in Asda to fund his golf.
“If you ask them they’ll probably say I was only there for about six months because I was asleep in the changing room half the time,” joked Sullivan after delighting his vociferous band of supporters with a flawless six-birdie salvo. “Working in Asda and having a little girl [Ruby was born in 2013] put a massive perspective on life.”