Levy's emphatic first win at China Open

BY OneAsia | European PGA Tour | 2014 Volvo China Open | Wrap | 27 Apr 2014

France’s Alexander Levy fired a final-round three-under-par 69 on Sunday to win the Volvo China Open by four strokes, claiming his first professional title with a dominant performance that earned him $530,000.

The 23-year-old never relinquished the lead after shooting a course-record 62 in Friday’s second round, finishing 19 under par around the beautiful 6,534-metre (7,145-yard) Genzon Golf Club course in Shenzhen, southern China.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood (68) was alone in second in the 20 million yuan (U.S. $3.2 million) event — co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European Tour — with Alvaro Quiros two shots further behind.

Keeping up what has become a tour tradition, Levy was mobbed by his countrymen in the tournament after draining the winning putt, and sprayed with champagne.

“I woke up very early this morning thinking about too much, but this is my life,” a delighted Levy said afterwards. “On the golf course I was only thinking about my job, and that’s why I’ve got the trophy in my hands.”

Levy went into the final round with a three-stroke lead that immediately stretched to four after Spaniard Alvaro Quiros bogeyed the first.

One group ahead, Fleetwood birdied the first three holes to give Levy something to think about, but he responded by picking up shots on six, 11 and 13 to lead by five at one point.

His only wobble came on the 15th when his drive found a divot hole, his second came-up well short, and he made double-bogey.

But a stunning second on the par-five 17th to ten feet for birdie, and an even better approach on the last for what was virtually a tap-in, saw him safely home.

“I closed my eyes and hit one of the best shots of the week. It was an amazing shot,” he said of the 17th.

Fleetwood was also happy with his effort.

“I’ve been on a little bit of a dodgy stretch, so it’s nice to get myself up there again and get in the mix,” he said.

“I got off to the perfect start but just couldn’t drive it on the back nine. My strength all week has been my driving, and I didn’t hit it in play enough. But its been a fantastic week — its come off for me.”

Without a win since 2011, Quiros feels his game is on the way back.

“The positive things for me are that I have been back in contention which I have only really been once in the past two years. I am happy to be where I am and I am now going to be going to the Spanish Open expecting big things.”

Thousands of fans turned up for the final round — many to watch Li Haotong, who started the day in joint eighth place, albeit nine shots off the lead.

But the 18-year-old wilted under the pressure and dropped six shots to finish joint 50th. Ouyang Zheng (67) was the best local player, with a share of 36th.

World number three Henrick Stenson (65) and Team Europe Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter (67) shot their best rounds of the week to move up the leaderboard and share fifth place with Anders Hansen (63), while Italian Francesco Molinari was alone in fourth.

Suffering the effects of a stomach bug for much of the week, Stenson could have overtaken both Adam Scott and Tiger Woods in the world rankings if he had won here.

“It is very tight at the top at the moment but I am going to have to play a lot better than I have done on the early part of this year if I want to get to World Number One,” he said.

“It is a work in progress. It really feels like I have been starting to play a lot better over the past month and if I can keep working away then hopefully more good things will come.”

Poulter’s tournament was derailed by a two-shot penalty for taking an incorrect drop in the second round.

“I came here to win this golf tournament … I felt it was a great opportunity,” he said.

“Dropping five shots on Friday in two holes … it’s more than disappointing, it’s inexcusable. It put me too far behind and as much as I wanted to chase today, it was always going to be a tall order."

OneAsia’s next tournament is the GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club on the outskirts of the Korean capital from May 8 – 11.

Mark Brown, Terry Pilkadaris and Scott Strange led the Australasians when they shared 24th position.

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