VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - World number 37 Andy Sullivan is refusing to panic despite suffering from something of a golfing hangover after enjoying by far the best year of his career last season.
The Englishman catapulted himself up the rankings by winning three European Tour events in 2015 but has made little impact this term, registering just one top-10 finish when sharing second place at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
“It was always going to be hard to come off three wins last year and come out of the blocks firing this year,” the 29-year-old Sullivan told Reuters in an interview after carding a third-round 72 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Saturday.
”I feel I‘m doing a lot of good things and it’s only a matter of time before everything clicks and I get back to the top of leaderboards again.
“Managing expectations is always tough after a good year. Expectations have been high this year and it’s up to me to handle those a little bit better than I have done so far,” added Sullivan after recording a level-par total of 216.
English golf is in good shape right now with Sullivan, U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett, British Masters winner Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood occupying places in the world’s top 55 along with seasoned campaigners such as Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.
It was only two-and-a-half years ago that Sullivan was down in 364th place in the rankings and he needs no reminding of the great strides he has made since the end of 2013.
”I‘m ranked 37th in the world and lying 19th in the Race to Dubai,“ he said. ”If that’s a poor start to the season, I think two or three years ago I’d have taken that.
“That’s where I’ve elevated my game to. If that’s me being poor, then my standards are high, although going forward I’d like to play better obviously.”
Sullivan, who triumphed at the South African Open, Joburg Open and Portugal Masters last year and finished second at the money-spinning, end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, said he had endured some frustrating moments this week.
The backing of a sizeable home crowd, however, has kept him feeling reasonably upbeat.
“To come to Wentworth and have the fans following me round in their droves has been fantastic,” said Sullivan.
“To have that home support has got me through the week. I have been getting a little bit frustrated out there and they’ve really helped me keep my head on right.”
Sullivan is satisfied enough with his ball-striking but acknowledges his touch on the greens could be better.
”I have not made a lot of putts this week,“ he said. ”Tee to green I’ve been happy all week... I have just needed the putter to warm up.
”I’ve always found it tough to putt at Wentworth. The slope of the greens and how quick they are this year has made it tough to judge the pace and lines.
“I’ve got two weeks off after this to chill out and relax so, with the majors coming up, that will be a good time to play well.”
The U.S. Open at Oakmont, Pennsylvania starts on June 16. The British Open at Royal Troon will be played four weeks later, followed closely by the July 28-31 U.S. PGA Championship at Baltusrol, New Jersey.
Editing by Clare Fallon