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‘I love feeding off it’: Andy Sullivan explains why he loves playing in front of NI fans

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England’s Andy Sullivan is relishing playing in front of Northern Ireland fans this week. Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images

England’s Andy Sullivan is relishing playing in front of Northern Ireland fans this week. Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images

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Home bird: Georgia Hall, happy to be in Northern Ireland rather than Japan. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Home bird: Georgia Hall, happy to be in Northern Ireland rather than Japan. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

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England’s Andy Sullivan is relishing playing in front of Northern Ireland fans this week. Credit: Warren Little/Getty Images

Former European Ryder Cup hero Andy Sullivan has revealed he is looking forward to the “banter” he can have with the Northern Irish fans at this week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle and Massereene.

The World No.85, who played at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, is the highest ranked player on the men’s side of the draw and is the early favourite to triumph, particularly given his excellent record in Ireland.

Sullivan has finished inside the top-10 three times at the Irish Open and is coming off the back of a 26th-placed finish at The Open, and the 34-year-old Englishman hopes he will receive another boost from the locals this week as he bids to lift his first trophy since last year’s English Championship.

“I don’t know, it maybe is my last name, maybe they just take me as one of their own!” laughed fans favourite Sullivan.

“But I always get a great reception here, and it’s brilliant. I love the fact you come to Ireland or Northern Ireland and the banter they throw at you on the golf course, I love feeding off it. I really enjoy it, always really enjoy it.

“I’ve always seemed to play quite well in Ireland and Northern Ireland, so it’s actually nice to come back to places where you feel comfortable and it feels like home.”

Sullivan believes his performance in the Open Championship was a “coming of age” moment.

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“I didn’t have any expectations going in because I got in last minute and I almost took it as a normal tournament,” Sullivan said.

““It was an amazing week. Obviously it didn’t pan out quite the way I wanted to at the weekend, but I felt like I almost came of age a little bit in that, mental-wise, I felt like I was really patient, really disciplined when normally I get a little bit frustrated at the weekend and try and chase things down.”

Elsewhere, England’s Georgia Hall insists she has no regrets turning down a place in the women’s field at the Olympics to feature at the World Invitational, admitting she’d rather place her focus on the current ‘European swing’ instead.

The ladies are currently in a run of events on the continent that started with last week’s Evian Championship in France and will culminate with the Women’s Open in mid-August, with many opting not to head to Japan but, instead, stay in Europe.

Hall, the World No.43, is one of those and she claims the scheduling meant she would rather have been in Co Antrim this week than the suburbs of Tokyo.

“As it got closer towards the Olympics, I saw how much it would squeeze into the schedule of events, especially here in Europe. It was just me, my priority was to prioritize the Scottish and British in front of that,” said the former Open champion.

“Every player had to make a decision and they had to probably miss one event someplace. Some missed Evian last week but I didn’t want to miss that event.

“This trip in Europe is my favourite of the year, so I really wanted to be there for that. I feel like I’m at home here and it’s so nice, (after) being in America a lot of the time, to only have the one or two-hour flight. I think it’s a great success.”


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