Welshman Kyron Sullivan put together an incredible birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle finish amid strong, gusting winds to sneak into a one shot lead at the Aa St Omer Open.
That stunning sequence left the 27 year old one shot clear of Englishman Benn Barham, with Frenchman Jean-François Lucquin in third place on three under par at the 6799 yard par 71 St-Omer Golf Club.
Sullivan, who started his round on the tenth tee, went to the ‘turn’ in two under par 33 before a double bogey six at the third brought him back to level. He remained level par until the sixth where he landed a beautiful sand wedge to three feet for birdie.
From there his confidence – and luck – soared. A perfect drive at the 575 yard, par five seventh left him only an eight iron approach, leaving him two putts for another birdie.
At the eighth, he left his eight iron 18 feet short of the hole but raked his putt into the middle of the cup before chipping in at the ninth and last hole of the day for an eagle three to give him a one shot advantage.
“I finished very well today,” said Sullivan. “I just hope that I can keep it going for the rest of the week. This is only my second European Tour event, after playing in the Madeira Island Open earlier in the year so I am just going to see how I get on and hopefully maintain that kind of form.”
Both Barham and Lucquin have excellent pedigrees at the Aa St Omer Open. The Englishman finished fourth at St-Omer GC in 2001, and joint fifth in 2002 – alongside Lucquin.
Barham fired a 67 yesterday to get to within one of the leader and confessed that the St-Omer GC is one of his favoured venues, a course where he feels at home and one on which he usually performs to a high level.
The 28 year old graduated the Challenge Tour in 13th place in 2002 and feels that he ready to make a return to The European Tour International Schedule after finishing 150th on the 2003 Volvo Order of Merit.
“I’m pleased with that because that wind is quite strong and the greens are really hilly so you have to miss them on the right sides because the downhill putts are tricky,” said Barham.
“But I gave myself about five or six birdie chances and took the majority of them so I’m happy with that start. I have been playing quite well over the past few weeks and I do feel that it is coming together at the right time of the season. I just need to back that up with some good results and I’ll be back up there.
“I was fourth here in 2001 and then fifth in 2002, and although I missed the cut last year, I always feel that this course has been kind to me, and I’ve always enjoyed playing here.
“I think you find that most players have their favourite courses, and that when they play those courses they know where to hit it and where not to and that is the way I feel when I come here. I think everyone has their favourites, and you have to try and take advantage when you are in that position – that’s what the psychologists tell me anyway!”
Despite missing a couple of birdie chances, Lucquin was pleased with his opening 68 given the windy conditions.
“I missed a few short putts for birdie but overall I am happy because the wind was really starting to blow and I think three under is a good score today,” said the 25 year old. “It was getting tough because club selection is difficult with those winds. I think that the course is better than I have ever seen it.”
Six players lie behind Lucquin on two under par, with a further ten on one under.