Portuguese Golf Masters: Andy Sullivan's hat-trick of titles has catapulted Englishman into world elite

 
Sam Torrance
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Andy Sullivan has climbed into the top 50 with his third European Tour win of the season (Source: Getty)

Not many players have won three European Tour events in a season, but that’s exactly what Andy Sullivan has achieved after the Englishman triumphed at the Portugal Masters on Sunday.

Sullivan, who was yet to win his maiden professional title this time last year, looked totally in control as he demolished the field to prevail by nine and finish on 23 under par.

His form had been patchy coming into the tournament, with three missed cuts in his last five outings, but he was able to draw on the confidence gained by those previous victories, both in South Africa, in early 2015.

When you’ve won before you know you just need to get yourself in contention and the rest can follow. Golf’s a strange game like that; you can have spells when your game just clicks.

Sullivan himself is a very good all-rounder rather than outstanding in any one aspect. He always fades the ball and uses that well, seems a very good, effortless driver, and has excellent iron play.

That result in Vilamoura lifts Sullivan right into contention for a place in Europe’s team at next year’s Ryder Cup, and it would be good to have the rookie involved.

It has also lifted him into the world’s top 50, and that is huge for him. He can now plan his 2016 calendar around the Majors and prestigious World Golf Championship events.

In simple terms, Sullivan, 29, has catapulted himself into the global elite, and that is no mean feat for someone who has been playing solely on the European Tour.

Also enjoying a life-changing win on Sunday was young Argentinian Emiliano Grillo, who defeated American Kevin Na in a play-off to win his first PGA Tour title at the Frys.com Open in California.

It’s only two weeks ago that Grillo secured his card by winning the second-tier Web.com Tour Championship. A fortnight on, he’s $1m richer and has a two-year exemption.

The 22-year-old was phenomenal, and you can be sure that he’d have been inspired for his final round by watching his countrymen’s World Cup victory over Ireland.

It was a poor week for former world No1 Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for 26th, and England’s Justin Rose, who tumbled from just one shot off the pace to three behind with a trio of late bogeys.

Those two and Rose in particular must be exhausted from a busy schedule. I’m surprised he didn’t take time off after the PGA Tour Championship, yet he’s due to play in Hong Kong this week too.

That tournament, the last of the European season before the four-leg Race To Dubai finale, is a last chance for players outside tour’s top 110 to climb the standings and guarantee their card.

Padraig Harrington is among that number and, although his three Major titles mean that he won’t struggle for invites to any tournament, I’m sure that’s not the way he’d want to go about it.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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