WARE, England — Andy Sullivan is closing in on his first win in almost five years after a third-round 64 on Saturday gave him a five-shot lead at the English Championship.
The 33-year-old Englishman won three times in 2015 as he finished in Europe’s top 10 but he has not lifted a trophy since the Portugal Masters in October of that year.
The 2016 Ryder Cup player entered the third day at Hanbury Manor with a one-shot advantage and carded two eagles, five birdies and two bogeys to move to 21 under, five strokes clear of countryman Steven Brown.
”My strategy (Sunday) will be the same as today,” Sullivan told europeantour.com. ”Just control what I can do. I can’t control anyone that is going to come up behind me.”
Sullivan set the tone with a remarkable drive to 2 feet on the par-four No. 1 for an eagle but he needed another eagle on the ninth to reclaim the lead from a charging Brandon Stone (67), who had six birdies before the turn.
As the South African faltered on the back nine, Brown became the nearest challenger, signing for a 66 that included him hitting the pin to be denied a hole-in-one on the sixth.
But Sullivan picked up four birdies in six holes from the 12th, with a three-putt on the 13th his only blemish on the back nine.
Stone was alongside countryman Dean Burmester (69) and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui (67) at 15 under.
The top 10 players on the European Tour’s mini Order of Merit after the first five events of the U.K. Swing will seal a place in the U.S. Open, with Sullivan having finished fourth at the British Masters two weeks ago.