Alexander Levy survives scare to claim a first tour title in China
Frenchman finishes four shots clear of England’s Tommy Fleetwood
Alexander Levy receives the traditional champagne reception from his French colleagues after winning the 2014 Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Golf round-up: Frenchman Alexander Levy claimed his first European Tour title on Sunday despite seeing his five-shot cushion cut to just one on the back nine of his final round at the Volvo China Open.
The 23-year-old was three strokes clear heading into Sunday’s final round in Shenzhen and looked to be on course for a comfortable victory as he calmly progressed through a flawless first 14 holes with 11 pars and three birdies.
A double-bogey six at the 15th gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope, but he swiftly recovered with birdies on 17 and 18 for a final-round 69 which saw him finish four shots clear of England’s Tommy Fleetwood (68).
Fleetwood made a flying start to his final round at Shenzhen’s Genzon Golf Club with three straight birdies – sinking 25-foot putts at the second and third – to get himself firmly in the hunt.
His cause was not helped by a bogey on 13, having hit a wayward drive into the hazard and been forced to take a penalty drop, but another superb long putt ensured a birdie at the 14th, shortly before Levy’s nightmare on 15. The Frenchman putted through the green into thick rough and required three shots from there.
That saw Levy’s lead reduced to just one shot, but he denied that his blip on 15 had been down to nerves, insisting he relished the pressure of being out in front.
He told www.europeantour.com: “I didn’t feel pressure. It was a difficult putt, difficult pin position, my ball was in the divot. It was a difficult shot, I made double bogey but I knew I was playing well and I was only thinking about my game.
“I hit one of my best shots on 17. I didn’t feel pressure on the golf course because I’m confident.
“I just played my golf and focused on the target. I saw Tommy made a birdie on the 17th, but I like the pressure.”
Levy’s triumph, for which he set the tone with a course-record 62 on Friday, meant he became the 20th different winner of the event, in its 20th staging.
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros (72) finished third, six strokes behind Levy’s 19-under total, with Italy’s Francesco Molinari (67) a further shot back and Denmark’s Anders Hansen (63), Swede Henrik Stenson (65) and England’s Ian Poulter (67) joint fifth on 11 under.
Michael Hoey closed with a four-under-par 68 to end the week in a tie for eighth position on 10 under and bring his earnings for the year to over €230,000.
Yet another bogey-free round lifted Noh Seung-yul into the lead of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Saturday evening.
Noh’s blemish-free 65 allowed him to take advantage of some struggles for overnight leader Ben Martin, who carded a 73 to slip down into a share of fourth, four shots off the pace.
But more than that, Noh became the first player to complete 54 holes at TPC Louisiana without a bogey.
Three consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes gave him the lead over Keegan Bradley, who matched Noh’s round of 65 to move up to second, two shots back.
Bradley had eight birdies on his round but bogeyed the par-three ninth.
Robert Streb held steady in third place, his round of 68 leaving him three shots back.
Martin, who had led through the first two days on the back of a course-record 62 on Thursday, found the going much tougher on Saturday with bogeys on the second and ninth, his sole birdie coming on the seventh hole.
Paul Casey had the best round of the day, carding six birdies on the back nine on his way to a 64 which lifted him 20 places to a share of seventh, still five shots off the lead.
Pádraig Harrington shot a one-under 71 and is tied for last place on three under.