Go for the US Open!
Dan Sullivan earns second Player of the Year honors
October 20, 2016
Balancing a family, job and passion for competitive golf isn't always easy, but it seems that in 2016, Dan Sullivan figured out how to balance all that. After a 2015 season that left him slightly disappointed, Sullivan came back with vengeance this year, besting the rest of the field on the SCGA Point List by more than 100, and securing his second career SCGA Player of the Year title. In addition to performing well at the SCGA Public Links Championship, SCGA Match Play Championship, SCGA Four-Ball Championship and winning the Pasadena City Championship, Sullivan secured his honor outside of Southern California, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Mid-Am and claiming the Player of the Year award in the process. We checked in with Sullivan, a long time SCGA competitor, to talk 2016, his Player of the Year award and what's next for the 49 year old.
What does it mean to you to win the SCGA’s Player of the Year Award?
It means a lot to me to win the PoY award, probably more than it did the first time in 2013. That year I barely beat out the second place finisher, and while I had a very solid year, I didn’t win any tournaments. This year, I won a tournament (Pasadena City Championship) and had a very high finish in a USGA event. Additionally, once I made match play at the US Mid Am, I realized that if I reached the Round of 16 I would win the SCGA PoY, so that gave me additional motivation, but also some self-imposed pressure. So to achieve that goal, and then some, was very satisfying.
How would you recap your 2016 golf season?
Overall it was a very good year. I got off to a slow start, not playing well at the SCGA Mid-Am, and missed the cut. But as mentioned I won the Pasadena City, which is a very big deal to me as a Pasadena resident, and did well at the US Mid Am. I also played well in several other events (T2 in the SCGA Four-Ball, 4th at the NCGA Mid-Am, T9 in stroke play in the California Amateur, T2 at the SCGA Public Links), so I’m very happy with how I played for most of the year.
Talk about the U.S. Mid-Am experience. Where does that rank in your career and how are you feeling about the event now?
I would say it’s the best experience I’ve had in my golf career to date. Not only the outcome, which was certainly great, but also the relationships I made with my host Doug Murray and his family, with whom I stayed during my time there. Without the opportunity to stay with them, and to have Doug and his son Jack caddie for me, I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did. It was also a thrill, albeit a nerve wracking one until I got used to the cameras, for me to be on live TV. To have so many friends and family tell me how much they enjoyed watching me on TV was really special. My wife has a great story about how all of FOX Sports shut down while the tournament was on TV (she works for FOX Sports who broadcasted the event).
As for how I’m feeling about it now, I’m not going to lie, I’m still disappointed I did not win my last match. While it was satisfying to battle back from being 2 down (twice), it was also very frustrating not to have closed the match out when I had a chance on 18. To get that close to an opportunity to win a USGA event, play in the Masters and all of the other things that come with it still bothers me. I’m sure, like many disappointments in this game, that feeling will fade with time, and overall I will recognize that it was still a great achievement for me. And I look forward to checking the “exempt” box when I sign up for the US Mid Am next year and 2018!
Where does golf fit into your everyday life?
Golf, specifically competitive golf, is a great release for me. When I am competing I am completely immersed in that experience, that tournament, that hole, that shot. I shut out whatever else is going on, at least for the time I am on the course. A lot of people, when they are on vacation, are working almost as much as they would be if they were in the office. Competitive golf allows me to completely unplug, literally and figuratively, from whatever else is going on for a little bit of time, which I think is beneficial for me. That being said, golf is also just a hobby. My family and my commercial real estate career are always a priority, and I do my best to make sure I keep it in the perspective it should be.
What’s next for your golf career? What are your goals now?
As I approach 50, I get asked a lot if I am thinking about trying to qualify for the Champions Tour. At this time, I am not giving it serious consideration. I have a young family and a nice career, so even if I were to qualify for fully exempt status on the Tour, the prospect of giving up my career and leaving my family for weeks at a time does not appeal to me. I will definitely try to qualify for the US Senior Open, and probably other senior events like the one here in Newport Beach, but that’s likely the extent of it. That said, I will never say never. Otherwise, my goals will be to continue to get better, and to be as competitive in local and national events as a guy my age with a family and real job can be.
The great thing about this game is it is the only sport you can get better at, and be competitive at a very high level, as you get older. My best basketball and baseball days are decades behind me, but hopefully some of my best golf is yet to come.
Dan is also one of the nicest guys I have ever met on the golf course.