Sullivan has Scot what it takes for timely win
LIVERPOOL fan Andy Sullivan might be one of millions cheering England on their World Cup journey, but the route on his mind this week is finding the way back to the winner’s rostrum via the Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Club.
The 31-year-old from Nuneaton, who stacked supermarket shelves before finding fame on the fairways, has valiantly battled his way back on track after losing his direction.
Sullivan confessed to complacency after claiming three European Tour titles in 2015 then making his Ryder Cup debut in 2016.
This season, however, Sullivan has demonstrated his determination by not missing a single cut on the European Tour while notching nine top 25s and totalling 117 under par.
Those figures alone indicate that Sullivan is on the cusp of winning again especially as he has good memories of competing in Scotland – he won the Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship in 2011 in which year he also helped GB & Ireland win the Walker Cup against an American team which included Jordan Spieth.
Sullivan was down the field when in 2015 the Scottish Open was last staged at Gullane, on Scotland’s East Coast on the Firth of Forth.
Neverthless, he finished sixth in the 2016 edition at Castle Stuart Golf Links then ninth the following year at Dundonald Links.
That further advertises his prospects of challenging for the title albeit that numerous golfers have performed well in the Scottish Open since it left Loch Lomond in 2011 following the decision to rotate the event on links courses.
Rickie Fowler, rated the best player in the world without a Major, won at Gullane in 2015 – a year after finishing eighth and he was in the mix 12 months ago with a top ten.
Fowler heads a powerful American force, all seeking to pocket this title while preparing for The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, with Masters champion Patrick Reed, 48year-old Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman contending.
Reed finished tenth in 2016 when Sweden’s Alex Noren, the French Open champion, won but missed the cut last year as Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello broke a five year losing sequence on The European Tour.
Mickelson enjoyed eight of the greatest days in his career when he won the Scottish Open in 2013 then The Open Championship the next week and insists that there is no better way to prepare for the third Major of the year than teeing-up in this event.
That statement is supported by the fact that six of the last eight Open winners have participated in the Scottish Open so we can expect another bold showing from the Americans with Kuchar, runner-up to Fowler in 2015 and fourth last year, worthy of an investment.
Justin Rose won this in 2014 and looked set to make a stout defence when opening with a pair of 66s in 2015 but fell back to 74th. The Englishman has elected to return after missing the last two years, and has a favourite’s chance.
Henrik Stenson, like Rose, has good form in the event – three top 15 finishes – while Russell Knox, tenth in both 2015 and 2016, and Tyrrell Hatton, runner-up in 2016 and fourth in 2014, cannot be discounted.
At longer odds, however, it is worth taken a punt on Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, third in 2011 and 2016, Spain’s Jorge Campillo, eighth in 2016 and enjoying his finest season, and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, fourth in 2014 and third in 2016.
American challenge: Matt Kuchar is a threat
Come in Andy: Sullivan is primed to win again