News All Articles
Sullivan shines with sparkling 61 in Dubai

Sullivan shines with sparkling 61 in Dubai

Andy Sullivan shot a flawless 61 on his way to a new course record as he flirted with European Tour history during the first round of the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World.

Andy Sullivan

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 United Arab Emirates to deliver a birdie frenzy and celebrate Fire Course's debut on the European Tour in sensational style.

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 Frenchman Antoine Rozner and English duo Matt Wallace and Ross 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.

An opening birdie at the tenth was followed by another at the 12th to get his round under way.

He was soon at the top of the leaderboard courtesy of four straight birdies from the 15th to reach the turn in 30 at six under par.

Rozner was keeping up with the World Number 72 at five under following gains at the first, fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth but Sullivan's birdie trail did not stop there.

He rolled in another at the first and when he carded his sixth in a row at the second, he was at eight under.

Rozner briefly joined him at the summit after a birdie at the 12th and an impressive eagle at the par five 13th but four time European Tour winner Sullivan nudged ahead once again.

Back to back birdies at the fourth and fifth saw him reach ten under, while Rozner remained in close quarters after his ninth gain of the round at the 16th saw him finish at nine under.

"I think it’s my best round of the year for sure," Rozner said. "I have been playing well over the last few weeks but I couldn’t really put anything together in the same round and I think I did that very well today."

There was a serious possibility of a 59 when Sullivan birdied the seventh before a par-par finish claimed the new course record of 61.

Wallace and Fisher joined Rozner at nine under after terrific finishes to their opening rounds in Dubai.

Matt Wallace

Starting on the back nine, Wallace traded a birdie at the 12th with a bogey at the 13th before he got hot just before the turn as he registered birdie-eagle at the 17th and 18th.

Wallace continued the surge with a gain at the first before a hat-trick of birdies from the third saw him climb to seven under.

He picked up another shot at the seventh and finished his round with a birdie putt from the fringe at the ninth.

"It’s important to have a good result this week," Wallace said. "I’m out here to play as well as I can anyway, that’s what I’m trying to do."

Fisher was the pick of the late starters as he rolled in seven birdies and an eagle.

He reached the turn at two under after gains at the third and fifth and continued his hot streak with successive lengthy birdie putts at the tenth and 11th.

Ross Fisher

Fisher's momentum continued at the 12th after picking up another shot before rolling in a fine eagle putt at the next to get to seven under.

The 40-year-old improved to eight under after a superb approach from the bunker at the 17th before having the chance to move into solo second when he found the par five last in two.

Fisher, whose putter was hot on the back nine, could not hole the 14 foot eagle putt as he tapped in for birdie and came home in for 29 on his way to nine under.

"I feel like it's been there but haven't been able to find it. So to go out there and do that, I'm delighted," Fisher said.

Scottish duo Craig Howie and Marc Warren and Swede Oscar Lengden are in a tie for fifth at eight under, with Italian pair Lorenzo Scalise and Francesco Laporta, Sweden's Rikard Karlberg and Spaniard Pep Angles one shot further back.

Read next