Keeping Score

Andy Sullivan shoots 61 to lead Golf in Dubai event

Englishman cites career gut check during COVID-19 shutdown in reshaping his game as he seeks 2nd title of European Tour season

61: First-round score for England’s Andy Sullivan, who posted a bogey-free 11-under round to lead the European Tour’s inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship on Wednesday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sullivan, 33, a four-time winner on the tour, started on the back nine at Jumeirah Estates’ Fire Course and made six birdies in a row near the turn, at Nos. 15-18 and then on Nos. 1-2. Sullivan, a three-time winner in 2015 who played on Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup team and was ranked as high as No. 28 in the world in 2016 before falling to 178th last year, credits the tour's four-month suspension forced by the coronavirus pandemic for a career re-evaluation. "COVID really changed everything for me,” he said. “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.” Sullivan rolled to a seven-stroke victory in the inaugural English Championship on Aug. 9 to return to the top 100 in the world and since then has climbed to No. 72. Sullivan had a change at 59 in Dubai when he birdied the par-5 No. 7 hole, his 16th of the day, but a par-par finish left him two strokes shy. Englishmen Ross Fisher and Matt Wallace shared second place with France’s Antoine Rozner at 9-under 63. Seventy-three of the 100 players broke par in the $1.2 million event (scores).

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