Sullivan added a 70 to his opening 66 at Glendower Golf Club to reach eight under par, one shot ahead of former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and eight clear of four-time major winner Ernie Els. Tournament host Els, who has won the event five times, was just one shot behind Sullivan after an opening 67 but slumped to a second round of 77 which featured back-to-back triple bogeys around the turn.
Schwartzel, who has yet to win his national open, finished birdie, eagle, birdie to record a 69 while Sullivan – who won a trip into space for a hole-in-one during the KLM Open last year – carded four birdies and two bogeys in pursuit of his first European Tour title.
The 27-year-old from Nuneaton, who recorded four top-five results on his way to finishing 33rd on the Race to Dubai last season, said: “I thought it was going to be a really good knock on the front nine, but a few little errant drives meant the rough got its payback on me today.
“But anything in red figures (under par) is good.