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Masters 2017: Sullivan soothes the pain after last year’s nightmare

By Phil Casey

Andy Sullivan’s second experience of the Masters proved far more enjoyable than the first, despite having to contend with more than just the elements at a windswept Augusta.

Sullivan failed to card a single birdie in rounds of 80 and 77 on his debut 12 months ago, but produced four yesterday in an opening 71 matched by Ryder Cup team-mates Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose.

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And the last of those came on the 18th after playing partner and 2013 champion Adam Scott had taken an inconvenient amount of time to put the finishing touches to his own 75.

“I played well enough to shoot under par and it was nice to just cap the day off there by holing one on the last,” Sullivan said.

“Going up there, I needed a pee so badly. I was literally trying to run up the hill. My stomach was bursting. Scotty was over a four footer and I was like, ‘hurry up’.”

Speaking about the contrast between this year and last, Sullivan added: “I’m buzzing. Especially after last year. I was the most nervous man on the golf course last year so to come out this year and feel normal again and just go out there and play golf is a nice feeling to have.

“It was brutal out there. It was like the Open. I had a putt on 17 which was straight downhill and it almost blew back up the hill. It’s so difficult to judge what is going to happen. You almost have to guess the gusts.”

It remains to be seen whether Jason Day’s mother will arrive in Augusta this weekend to watch her son compete for his first green jacket. The Aussie star shot a two-over 74 opening round.

How Day performs the rest of the weekend remains to be seen, but his mind is a lot closer to where it usually is during big golf tournaments.

“I just feel a lot lighter, I feel refreshed in a way,” Day said earlier in the week. “All the hard stuff is behind us and we’ve just got to make sure that we’re staying on top of it, and that I can actually get back to kind of physically just kind of focusing on golf even though I know my mum is getting well taken care of now.”

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