Sullivan seeks Open spot

The 28-year-old has made an impressive start to the season with victory at last month’s South African Open Championship and a tied-fourth finish at the Dubai Desert Classic, but has yet to secure his place at St Andrews this July.??

While breaking into the world’s top 50 would automatically guarantee Sullivan entry for the Majors and WGC events, the Englishman can book an Open Championship spot with a top three finish at the??Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Sullivan wasn’t even in the world’s top 300 when he finished tied-fifth at last year’s event, four strokes behind home favourite George Coetzee, but believes he’s in a strong position to challenge this week.??

???Finishing fifth here last year and then winning the SA Open at Glendower down the road makes it nice to come back,??? Sullivan said. “I???m keen to have a crack at it and I???m full of confidence.

“I???m swinging it quite well after a two week break, so I???m looking forward to this week.??I have learnt a lot since that win.

“Playing with Rory (McIlroy) and Martin (Kaymer) the first two days in Dubai, I learnt so much about myself and my game. It???s nice to be out here and I get quite a lot of attention, so hopefully I???ll come out and do myself justice.

???I???ve never played a Major Championship – to play one in your own country would be absolutely fantastic.”

South Africa’s Richard Sterne is keen to make amends for a “horrendous” spell of form, with the six-time European Tour winner dropping out of the world’s top 100 after missing the cut in six consecutive tournaments on the PGA Tour.

Sterne has made a disappointing start in his attempt to earn a permanent PGA Tour card this season, so has decided to return to his native South Africa and venue of his last victory in a bid to find a resurgence in form.??

The 33-year-old stormed to a seven-shot victory at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington GC two years ago to follow on from triumphing in a play-off five years earlier, with Sterne looking to make it a hat-trick of wins this week.??

“My results haven’t been good the last few weeks,” admitted Sterne, who missed the cut when attempting to defend his title last season. “I need to find my game again and there is no better place than here to start. If I can get healthy and feel good for Thursday I think I can get off to a good start.

“It would be nice to have a round of golf where I hit the ball well, make some??putts, and walk off the golf course with a bit confidence. If I can do that then??I think it will be a good few weeks.

“It’s been a horrendous start for??me and I need to keep my card somewhere, so I’m under a bit of pressure with??that. I haven’t been playing very well, so that hasn’t made it easier.??

“I always try to come back and play here. I enjoy the look of the golf courses??and I’ve done well here, but I’ve also missed cuts. It’s strange. Hopefully this??year I can put myself in contention and if I can then I know that I can shoot
low scores around here. I’ve got the game to do it.”

The first two rounds take place over the East and West Course before the last two are completed on the East, with new European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke featuring in a bumper??field.