Dan Sullivan is officially on a heater. Four days after firing a 69 at Annandale GC to qualify for the 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Sleepy Hollow CC, he’s won the Public Links Championship for the third time in his decorated amateur career.
It came down to a two-hole playoff, but Sullivan, a Pasadena native, eventually prevailed for an extra special victory that came at his home course, Brookside GC.
“Any time you win a public course tournament it’s, for me, very gratifying,” said Sullivan. “I’m a men’s club member here, I’ve played here for 30+ years, I played here in high school. I think it’s a great two golf courses and I’m appreciative of the opportunity to play and happy to have won.”
It looked like Sullivan had the championship wrapped up in regulation. After racing out to the top of the leaderboard in round one, he put together a string of three birdies in his first four holes to start his second round, which opened a four-stroke lead at ten-under overall. He retained that cushion through most of the rest of the round, until Alex Resurreccion started charging through the back nine to try and catch the leader.
After birdies from Resurreccion on Nos. 14 and 15, Sullivan responded with a birdie on 15 to keep his cushion at three strokes (12-under overall) with three holes left. But Sullivan bogeyed 16, then nearly found the water on the par-3 17th. His second shot from an embedded lie sailed over the green, then he three-putted to card a double-bogey. Resurreccion parred his way through Nos. 16-18, coming in with a final score of nine-under.
Sullivan, standing at the par-four 18th tee box at nine-under, needed a par or better to not come out on the wrong side of a comeback. After an errant left tee shot, Sullivan impressively placed his second shot on the green, about 30 feet from the cup. He calmly two-putted to set up a sudden-death playoff with Resurreccion.
“I had a very rough finish so I thought ‘I guess I’m lucky to be here’ given how poorly I hit the ball on 16 and 17,” said Sullivan.
Each player hit the fairway on the first playoff hole (playing off Brookside’s Course #1 first hole). Resurreccion applied about as much pressure as he could when he stuck his approach shot to less than four feet. Sullivan, who nestled his approach to the left side of the green, needed about 30 feet to convert his birdie opportunity.
“It's almost a straight putt,” said Sullivan. “I’ve had that putt a number of times for all the years I’ve played out here. I knew I had to make it.”
So he hit it straight, and at what seemed like the very last second, the putt dropped in on the back left side.
“Alex had it in there close. I think it literally fell in the last second so that was a good putt and fortunate that it went in,” said Sullivan.
Resurreccion tapped in his birdie to send the playoff to a second hole, but that long putt was all the momentum Sullivan needed. On the second playoff hole (par-four second hole), his chip shot onto the green stopped within a foot of the cup, setting him up for a tap-in par. Resurreccion was on the green in two, needing at least a two-putt to extend the playoff to a third hole. He was unable to convert, so Sullivan tapped in his par to win and finally complete a wire-to-wire victory.
“I’m very happy with how I putted,” said Sullivan. “I had putted really poorly for much of the early part of this year. I took a putting lesson a month and half ago and it has made a lot of difference in not only how I’ve putted but how I’ve approached practicing my putting. So I made a lot of good putts, not just yesterday and today, but also in qualifiers.”
With the win, Sullivan has also earned exemption into the 2024 SCGA Amateur and 2024 California Amateur at Sherwood CC. But for now, he’s got his 12th career USGA event to prepare for at Sleepy Hollow.
“It’s nice to be on a heater. I’m hoping I can carry this forward to Sleepy Hollow.”