Andy’s over the moon about his lead

SA Open Championship: Round 1Andy Sullivan fired a six-under-par 66 on Thursday to share the first round lead of the 104th South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club with Jbe’ Kruger.

And while his round contained six birdies and an eagle – as well as a double bogey – much of the questioning by the media afterwards centred around things like gravitational forces, and astronaut training.

That’s because he won a trip to space after hitting a hole-in-one during the final round of last year’s KLM Open in Zandvoort, Netherlands. XCOR Space Expeditions awarded the prize for the first player to ace the par-three 15th during the tournament.

Sullivan said at the time he was ‘not the best flyer’, but would undertake the 30-minute flight to 100km (330,000 feet).

“It was quite strange really,” he said. I played the hole in two for each of the first three rounds and then stepped up on the final day and aced it. I played that seven-under for the week!”

He hasn’t taken the trip yet, as there are things to be sorted out first. “It only started in December,” he said. “They’re testing a few things at the moment. It looks like I’ll be getting shot up there at some point.

“I can take it when I want, so I might just take it when I’m 80 and think ‘Well, I’ve had a good life now’. I’ll definitely let a few go before I entertain it.

“You have to do five weeks of astronaut training. There are five or six Gs up and down, so your body has to get used to that. It’s pretty intense training. When I won it I was buzzing, but then you settle down and consider the logistics.”

His performance on the back nine was pretty stratospheric: He made three birdies and an eagle from the 12th to the 15th to vault up the leaderboard, overtake Ernie Els, and join Kruger in a one-stroke lead.

“On the 15th I actually missed the fairway,” he said. “I drew some sort of good lie in the rough. I got it to the front edge with a rescue and as soon as I hit the chip it checked up on the third bounce and it was tracking. Nice when they come off. The chip was about 40 yards.”

He came 14th in last year’s SA Open. If he wins this year, it might just be the signal for a career blast-off.

 

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