A wonder show from Andy Sullivan turned his first victory in five years into a tearful coronation at the English Championship at Hanbury Manor on Sunday.
Sullivan, 34, appeared in a spot of difficulty when Spaniard Adrian Otaegui reduced his seemingly comfortable five-shot overnight lead to a precarious two strokes with nine holes to play.
The popular ‘Sully’, however, responded in emphatic style with four birdies on his back nine to make it back-to-back wins for Englishmen on the UK swing of the European Tour, following Sam Horsfield’s success at Forest of Arden last week.
It led to lovely scenes as Sullivan got to share the victory via laptop with his family back home, with excited young daughter Ruby almost stealing the show.
In what might prove one of the quotes of the year, she told her dad: ‘When you get back, we are going to get so much beer in — and when we open them we’re going to shake them up!’
On a week of low scoring at the Hertfordshire venue, Sullivan shot a superb 64 for an emphatic seven-stroke victory. He one-putted 13 of the 18 greens for a 27-under-par total that was just two strokes shy of the tour record set by Ernie Els way back in 2003.
‘My team have put in so much hard work on my behalf and it’s great to reward them,’ said Sullivan, who stacked supermarket shelves to pay for his route to the top and played in the 2016 Ryder Cup.
‘I’m feeling very emotional right now. I lost my brother-in-law two years ago, and a close friend earlier this year, so this win is for them.’
Fourth place went to South African newcomer Wilco Nienaber, who took full advantage of John Catlin’s stupidity on the eve of the event.
Catlin played the dumb American when he broke the strict Covid-19 protocols by going to a local restaurant, and was deservedly thrown out of the tournament, with Nienaber taking his place.
He has now earned himself a spot at this week’s Celtic Classic, as the UK swing moves on to Celtic Manor in Wales.