Andy Sullivan nearly went back-to-back in his Portugal Masters title defense in 2016. The Englishman shot 11-under 61 on Friday and reached 22-under-par, one shot away from the aggregate record he set in his win in 2015 and one behind winner, Pádraig Harrington.
Sullivan won wire-to-wire and by a tournament record nine strokes in 2015. It was his third European Tour victory of the year and his career as well as the first in Europe.
"“Those two wins in South Africa were unbelievable but to show your peers that you can do it in Europe as well is unbelievable and to do it in front of so many people from my home golf club,” Sullivan told the European Tour after the win. “My mum and dad are here and it’s been incredible.”"
Sullivan owns nine straight rounds in the 60s at this event, 12 in a row under par and has finished inside the top 50 in all five appearances.
The 30-year-old still seeks his first win since 2015, but he’s had a decent season this year. Sullivan is 14-of-18 with 12 made cuts in a row this summer. That stretch featured a T8 at the Nordea Masters and three top-20s in a row at Rolex Series events.
Sullivan will look to shake off missed cuts in his last two starts at the PGA Championship and KLM Open. The key this week will be avoiding the big round. Sullivan has had decent finishes but at No. 132 in stroke average, he’s had instances of shooting himself out of the tournament.
Statistically there’s nothing to write home about with Sullivan, but he hits enough fairways to always have a chance. I like him to have his best showing of the year this week in Portugal.