Watch the Celtic Classic live on Sky Sports. First-round coverage begins on Thursday at 12pm on Sky Sports Golf
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 12/08/20 3:31pm
Andy Sullivan revealed he underwent “a lot of self-reflection” during lockdown, and the result was a more positive attitude which spurred him onto his English Championship victory last week.
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Sullivan was happy with his form at the start of the year, but he admitted his mindset needed work if he was to gain his first European Tour title since his three-win season in 2015.
The 2016 Ryder Cup star spent time discussing his issues with his backroom team during the coronavirus shutdown, and a “happy and smiley” Sullivan finished tied for fourth at the British Masters last month before powering to a seven-shot victory at Hanbury Manor last week.
He now heads into this week’s Celtic Classic with his world ranking back inside the top 100, giving him renewed confidence to build on his first win in five years.
“Before lockdown, I felt I was playing really, really well, I just felt that my attitude wasn’t there,” he said. “My head wasn’t in the space to win a golf tournament, or compete in a tournament.
“There was a lot of self-reflection over lockdown and I opened up to my team about a lot of things personally and golf-wise, talked through it and came out with a plan to get my way to being happy and smiley on the golf course and being competitive.
“I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. To come out and be competitive at the British Masters and then win the third event, it’s amazing and reinforces what we’re doing as a team.
“It was a long time waiting for that fourth win and I couldn’t be happier. Nice to do it in my own country and get back home with the family and celebrate. I’m still on cloud nine, it’s not quite sunk in yet.”
While Sullivan went five years without a win, Jamie Donaldson is approaching six years since the last of his three victories on the European Tour, and he is happy with the state of his game as he looks forward to competing on home soil.
The Welshman has been hampered by wrist problems in recent years, but he declared he is now “fit as a fiddle” and he is aiming for a strong week to boost his hopes of qualifying for the US Open next month.
“I love coming back down here,” said Donaldson, who has enjoyed back-to-back top-15 finishes in his last two starts. “It’s a great venue and the course is looking really good. Normally you get great crowds, which is a shame, given the current circumstances that won’t be happening. It’s a special place, beautiful setting and beautiful weather.
“I’ve been playing nicely. After the wrist operation, things take time and I’ve been working hard to get that right, but I’m fit as a fiddle. Sometimes things take longer than you think they would. I came back last year but never really felt 100 per cent. But now I feel fit, ready to go and look forward to playing next week.
“This is more of a ball-strikers golf course this week, it’ll help the longer hitter. It’s good that I can shoot low scores like that still. I’ve been playing well in practice, things are starting to come together.
“I need a few good finishes and I might just qualify for the US Open. That would be massive. You want to play in majors and play at the highest level. I’ve played quite a few now and that’s where you want to be playing, against the best players. It doesn’t matter the level of tournament you’re playing in, the standard is always high.”
Live European Tour Golf
August 13, 2020, 12:00pm