Andy Sullivan title bid under threat from wild weather

Andy Sullivan at the Portugal Masters yesterday. Picture: Getty
Andy Sullivan at the Portugal Masters yesterday. Picture: Getty
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PORTUGAL Masters leader Andy Sullivan will hope incoming thunderstorms do not blow him off course as he bids to become the first man to win three European Tour events this season.

Severe storms with 50mph-plus winds are predicted for Vilamoura today and organisers have taken the rare decision to hold a shotgun start – groups teeing off on all 18 holes from 8am – in an attempt to get day three completed.

Englishman Sullivan, who began the day tied with Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium on seven under par, is top of the leaderboard after a second successive 64 moved him to 14 under and three shots clear of another Belgian, Thomas Pieters, who carded a 66 and is also looking for his third win of the season.

A European Tour statement said: “Due to the extremely poor weather forecast for the next two days, it has been decided that the best chance of completing the third round is to schedule a shotgun start from 8am on Saturday.”

Colsaerts went out in the afternoon but could not match the earlier scoring of his rival and a one-under 70 left him seven shots adrift.

A birdie at Sullivan’s first hole, the 406-yard 10th, set him on his way and he picked up three further shots before the turn with three additional birdies coming over the front nine.

“It’s always nice to back up a good score with a new one,” the 29-year-old, who won twice in South Africa at the beginning of the season, said in his post-round interview.

“Sometimes it’s quite tough to go out there and back it up after shooting a low one yesterday but I played much in the same vein as I did yesterday. I felt really confident out there, tapped the flags again and putted with heart again.

“It is so difficult not to shoot a good a score the way I was hitting it and putting it really.”

Scoring was good again among the early groups, with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger moving to 10 under and Southport’s Tommy Fleetwood, at nine under, also matching Sullivan’s best round of the morning.