Andy Sullivan hits a tee shot during day one of the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Fire course on Wednesday.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
England’s Andy Sullivan rode a hot putter to shot an immaculate 61 on his way to a new course record to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World.
The Englishman went out in the fourth group of the day, starting on the back nine, and he took full advantage of early conditions in the UAE to deliver a birdie frenzy to sit ahead of compatriots Matt Wallace, Ross Fisher and France’s Antoine Rozner at the Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Fire course on Wednesday.
Sullivan recorded 11 birdies in a bogey free opening round and needed to finish his final three holes in three under to become only the second person to record a 59 in European Tour history - after Oli Fisher at the 2018 Portugal Masters.
A birdie at the par five seventh boosted his chances but he brushed the cup with his long birdie putt at the eighth. Sullivan could have scored 59 at the par four ninth - his last - if he holed out in two but he pushed his tee shot into the rough.
His approach landed seven feet away, however, Sullivan could not drain the birdie putt as he carded a stunning 11 under par - two shots ahead of Rozner and English duo Wallace and Fisher.
"It’s funny, I played the front nine yesterday and I played the back nine a year ago when we came over to warm up, you do all this prep on these courses and try and work out where to hit it," Sullivan said.
"This week I turned up and clattered it down and found myself being ridiculous under par through seven or eight holes on my front nine. You think ‘here we go.’
"Covid really changed everything for me. I refocused and started enjoying it again. I’ve started to play a lot better. Going out there and enjoying it I know I’m giving myself the best chance to shoot a low score.
"Coming back to Jumeirah, I’ve always played pretty tidy here on the other course. It’s nice to get off to a flier on this one." Wednesday marked the 49th UAE National Day and Emirati invitational golfer Ahmed Skaik hit the opening tee shot to start the new event at Jumeirah Golf Estates before Sullivan made his charge up the leaderboard.
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