Englishman Andy Sullivan said he would be happy to play all his golf in Johannesburg after he added the Joburg Open title on Sunday to the South African Open he won seven weeks ago at Glendower, the 28-year-old sealing a two-shot triumph with a brilliant 66.
Sullivan won the national open in a dramatic playoff with Charl Schwartzel, impressing with his happy demeanour despite the tension down the stretch, and yesterday he was once again relaxed as he dropped just one shot in making up a three-shot deficit.
“I’ve been working hard with my coach and psychologist, but enjoying myself too. Every time I’m in contention, I wish I could bottle those emotions, it’s an unbelievable feeling and I seem to thrive on it.
“I wish I could play in Johannesburg every week! I felt really good down the stretch at Glendower and even better today. There wasn’t any pressure, I was very relaxed and it was just me and ‘Macca’ [caddy Sean McDonagh] having a laugh, a Saturday afternoon stroll on the golf course,” Sullivan said after his second European Tour title.
There were a handful of golfers in contention in the final round, with the lead changing hands several times, but the most serious challenges came from fellow Englishmen Anthony Wall and David Howell.
But both made a couple of crucial errors in the closing holes.
Wall bogeyed 15 after his approach slid off the green into the reeds surrounding the dam in front of the putting surface, while his drive on the final hole went under the trees on the left, forcing him to settle for par when he really needed at least a birdie to put pressure on Sullivan.
Howell sent his drive into the water on 14 which led to bogey, and then missed a crucial five-foot birdie putt on 15.
Sullivan himself was holding a tenuous one-shot lead when he found the water with his approach shot on the par-four 11th, but a brilliant 25-foot pressure putt saw him limit the damage to just a bogey.
The man from the English midlands then closed out a thrilling win with a top-class finish, birdies on 15 and 18 sealing victory.
There was a tense moment on 18 when he left his eagle putt eight feet short of the hole and was left with a tricky, and crucial, birdie putt.
“I knew if I got a birdie on the last I’d have a really good chance of winning, but I left myself with a bit more than I would have liked. But I did not believe my second win would come so quickly, I thought it was unbelievable to win the SA Open but this is even better,” a beaming Sullivan said.
Overnight leader Wallie Coetsee missed several birdie putts as he shot a one-under-par 71 and finished in the bunch of runners-up on 15-under – Wall, Howell, Ireland’s Kevin Phelan and fellow South African Jaco van Zyl.
The iron play of Coetsee was just not sharp enough to get him closer to the flags, and he also missed out on one of the entries to the Open Championship which went to Sullivan, Wall and Howell after the tie-breaker of world golf ranking had been applied.
“I’ve never played in a major championship before, so obviously that’s massive. It will also be nice to put a stop to the stick of my manager and caddy, who have both played in majors, and it’s at St Andrew’s, the home of golf, on top of that,” Sullivan said.
One of the biggest smiles in golf is only getting bigger.