Jeremy Ellwood sees GM columnist Andy Sullivan run the full gamut of emotions over the front nine on the final day of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
It’s quite some time since I followed a player round in a tournament, so when GM columnist and South African Open winner, Andy Sullivan, had the decency to convert a potential early flight home into a top 20 placing after round two – thanks to a late birdie blitz – I thought the least I could do was watch him live in round four of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
It was an enlightening experience that highlighted perfectly what a battle between man and the game itself golf can be, as ‘Sulli’ took us on a rollercoaster of emotions from the 1st to the 9th…
1st – a poor pitch sees a wedge being returned to the bag a tad sharply, but a good first putt and Andy’s away with a safe par.
2nd – an excellent approach to 10 feet is converted to take Andy to 8-under.
3rd – a decent tee-shot on this testing par 3, but the putt has to go up and over a crest and is by no means easy. The first putt is just close enough for another par.
4th – A good drive is followed by a poor wedge that sees Andy spinning away in disgust with some audible muttering and self-recrimination. Again, a good first putt from 35-40 feet and no damage is done.
5th – Andy’s drive misses the fairway by a few feet and draws a bad lie. The ball doesn’t come out well and the resulting pitch releases and rolls on through. The par-saving putt from 20ft seems destined to drop but hits something a few feet away and stays out. The offending blemish is tapped down repeatedly. Back to 7-under.
6th – “That’s just a straight pull,” Andy cries as his approach heads left, shaking his head in disbelief. Maybe so, but it’s still only 30ft away from where a safe par again ensues.
7th – An excellent wedge to 5ft, after flirting with the sand off the tee, is converted for birdie number too. Back to 8-under.
8th – Not a pin to be messed with close to the water. Andy’s tee-shot finishes 20ft away and the birdie putt just stays high. Another safe par.
9th – “Don’t go behind a rock!” Andy shots as his drive heads way right towards the desert rocks. It doesn’t! It hits a rock full-on and loops back over the ball-spotter’s head before returning to earth in the middle of the fairway just behind Rafa Cabrera-Bello’s perfect drive. Cue much laughter! Better still, Andy then rips driver off the deck onto the green and safely two-putts for a birdie that seemed just a tad unlikely when his drive was in the air.
Two-under on a front nine during which Andy had seemed out of sorts with his game for much of the time. Funny old game, isn’t it? Andy and I had a good laugh about it as he headed for the 10th tee, while I made for the media centre to write this up. Now, if he can just repeat Thursday’s back nine…