Wednesday, 06 January 2016
Andy Sullivan  (Getty Images)
Andy Sullivan (Getty Images)

Andy Sullivan will take a fearless approach into The BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni as he defends a title for the first time on The European Tour.

The Englishman claimed his first triumph at Glendower Golf Club 12 months ago and followed it up with two more at the Joburg Open and the Portugal Masters on his way to finishing eighth in The Race to Dubai.

The 28 year old openly admits that improving on his stellar 2015 campaign would be an incredible feat but he now feels better prepared to contend with the top players thanks to one of his trademarks.

Sullivan is well known in the golfing world for his cheery, laid back demeanour and he believes that was, and will continue to be, a major factor in his success.

"Last year was unbelievable," he said. "I'm not going to stand here and say that I'm going to try and win four tournaments this year because I know how hard it was to win three.

"My goals are to improve as a player and I know if I can improve as a player and manage myself better, I'm going to give myself the best chance to achieve as much as I can in this game. I learned that a lot last year with my wins.

"I felt like the times I could play well last year I managed myself really well, was really chirpy on the course, I wasn't beating myself up about hitting bad shots. I felt like I learned last year that players who don't win tournaments are scared of being inconsistent where I'm not scared of being inconsistent.

I know that golf is not a perfect game and I wasn't scared to go out there and play badly, I knew I could still get it round in a number and I think that is what the best guys do - Andy Sullivan

"I think I learned that last year and it has put me in great stead for this year."

Sullivan won in dramatic circumstances last year as Charl Schwartzel dropped four shots in his closing five holes to allow him into a play-off. A remarkable shot out of the trees from Sullivan gave him a birdie opportunity and he did not pass it up as he claimed a maiden title.

And Sullivan admits the memories of that afternoon are still fresh in the mind as he walks around the course.

"It's just nice to come back to where you've won before," he said. "Walking round yesterday just reminiscing of shots that I hit on the back nine and in that play-off, they're just fantastic feelings, you just can't write those things down.

"It's been an incredible year and it all started from here so it's fantastic to get back. Hopefully I can put up a good performance and a good fight this week."

He added: "When I got in that play-off, I felt like I was happy to be there and Charl was a bit frustrated. So I thought, as much experience as he had, I had the upper hand almost.

"Judging from the tee shots I wouldn't think that any of us were in a good spot there but luckily I managed to pull off an unbelievable shot and take the tournament.

"It held me in good stead for the rest of the year knowing that under pressure I could perform at that level."

Sullivan's form has seen him move in the top 50 in the world and earn an invitation to the Masters Tournament. The man from Nuneaton played in the other three Major Championships last term but will be making his debut at Augusta National as he looks to make an impact in the game's biggest events.

"When you get that invite in paper it's like you're there and you've got it," he said. "It's an absolutely incredible feeling just to open that and it's the best bit of post I've ever had."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1STONE, BrandonRSA18-14
2BEZUIDENHOUT, ChristiaanRSA18-12
3BROOKS, DanielENG18-11
T4GOOSEN, RetiefRSA18-9
T4GRACE, BrandenRSA18-9
T4WALTERS, JustinRSA18-9

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