Andy Sullivan is within touching distance of his first European Tour title in five years, extending his English Championship lead to five shots on day three at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club.
The 33-year-old is aiming to become the second Englishman in successive weeks to win on home soil in the UK Swing after his compatriot Sam Horsfield claimed last week’s Hero Open title. It looks like Sullivan will take some stopping, after he followed up his course-record second round 62 with a super 64 which included two eagles on the front nine.
The 2016 Ryder Cup player’s round almost got off to the most spectacular of starts when he was just four feet away from holing an albatross hole-in-one at the par four first, instead tapping in for an opening eagle two. He would pick up a second eagle at the par five ninth and three birdies in the last five holes would earn him a seven under par round for a 21 under total.
He enters the final day five strokes clear of his nearest challenger, Steven Brown, whose five under par 66 moved him to 16 under par while Rolex Series winner Brandon Stone is one of three players in a share of third on 15 under par, alongside fellow South African Dean Burmester and Spain’s Adrián Otaegui.
Andy Sullivan: “I was just trying to focus on a shot at a time. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but really trying to control what I could do out there today. I was swinging it well and just trying to give myself as many chances as possible. As I was swinging it well a lot of shots came off today and I gave myself a lot of chances. It was good fun out there.
“Four under for the front nine the way the week has been going was pretty normal. Everyone has been going pretty low. It’s a golf course where you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve still got to go after it and try to make birdies but also be sensible.
“I didn’t realise I was five in front until I was coming up the last. I was just trying to make as many birdies as possible to be honest without forcing a mistake… like a three putt on 13. Just trying to control my situation and keep hitting the good golf shots that I have been hitting all week.
“Strategy will be the same as today. Just control what I can do. Can’t control anyone that is going to come up behind me. This golf course does offer a lot of birdies so I’m sure at some point someone is going to have a run at me. All I can do is control what I can do and see where we are at the end of it.”
Steven Brown: “I’m definitely feeling better today, it was much more enjoyable today. I’ve literally just seen the video of six, one of my mates sent it to me on my phone. We didn’t really know what happened because it looked on line but then it disappeared but the guys behind the green didn’t react so we knew it wasn’t in but I didn’t realise it was that close. I had another one on 15 the other day where I hit the flag and it bounced out.
“It’s just about doing the same as I’ve done all week really. I’ve been playing well so it’s just about giving myself 18 chances and see what happens.”
Adrián Otaegui: “It was a good round today. Obviously the wind was completely different to yesterday so the course is playing different but I had a very good start, three birdies in the first three holes which was perfect.
“I have no idea what I’ll need to shoot tomorrow. I will try to be aggressive, enjoy myself, go for the pins. I don’t know how the wind will be tomorrow, if it will be like today or the two other days. I don’t know if the course will dry out, I’ll just try to relax now this evening and try do my best tomorrow.”
Brandon Stone: “Obviously the front nine went exactly as planned, walked off the front nine and was six under through nine and it kind of felt like Jamie Donaldson and myself would be battling it out to see who could shoot 59 first but it was a game of two halves.
“The course bit us right in the butt on the back nine there, luckily I can come back tomorrow and see what I can do. I tell you what if I can play two nines like I played the front nine today I could have a sniff at winning.”
Dean Burmester: “That was probably some of the worst ball-striking anyone will ever see on TV, but look my short game was awesome and I kept in there and hung in touch and I kept hanging in there, hung in tough. Today was a bad day and shot two under so I’ll take it. Birdies is the plan tomorrow.”