Alexander Levy surprised by sizzling Shanghai form
The 24-year-old is now 40 under for last five stroke play rounds, with 23 birdies and one bogey in China
Alexander Levy of France talks with media after the third round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
France’s Alexander Levy was surprised by his own brilliant form after claiming a commanding lead in the BMW Masters in pursuit of a third win of the season.
Levy, who shot rounds of 63 and 61 to win the rain-shortened Portugal Masters three weeks ago, fired a third round of 63 at Lake Malaren to reach 22 under par, four strokes ahead of Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson, who compiled a brilliant 62.
The 24-year-old tournament leader failed to win any of his three group matches in the Volvo World Match Play Championship but is now a combined 40 under par for his last five stroke play rounds and has made 23 birdies and just one bogey in 54 holes in Shanghai.
“I played amazing golf,” said Levy, who won his first European Tour title in the Volvo China Open in April. “I’m very surprised by myself. I started well and made some early birdies and hit some amazing shots. I am very happy with the way I played golf today.”
Levy began the day a shot behind halfway leader Nicolas Colsaerts, but birdied the first three holes and picked up further shots on the sixth and seventh to reach the turn in 31, before almost holing his approach to the 10th to set up another birdie. The tee on the par-four 11th had been moved forward to encourage players to attempt to drive the green and although Levy was one of the few players not to take it on, his decision was vindicated when he played another brilliant wedge shot to two feet.
Donaldson was matching Levy’s scoring exploits, the Welshman covering the front nine in 32 and picking up further shots on the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th before holing his second to the 16th for an eagle two.
Levy almost replied with an eagle of his own, narrowly missing from eight feet on the par-five 15th, but the birdie extended his lead to four shots over Donaldson, with Germany’s Marcel Siem another stroke back after a 65.
“It’s nice to be in this position,” Levy added. “It was pretty much the same when I won in China so I am going to enjoy the game tomorrow, do my best and see what happens.”
Donaldson’s scored matched his course record from 2012, although it will not count for record purposes due to the preferred lies in operation.
“Obviously the course suits my game,” said the 39-year-old, who won the Czech Masters in August to secure his Ryder Cup debut and then clinched the winning point at Gleneagles by beating Keegan Bradley in the singles.
“I’ve shot 10 under before and I’ve done it today which is great. I got the ball rolling better on the greens which made a big difference and obviously that shot on 16 is a big bonus.
“I had 142 (yards) to the flag, slightly uphill into the wind which was a soft nine iron and it came off spot on. Pitched just past the hole and spun back and went in. It’s quite a narrow entrance into that green from where I was but it pitched perfect and obviously is a bonus to see it go in.
“I’ve been playing well for a few years now so things have been getting better each year. I’ve been improving and winning was just a matter of time. Now it’s obviously to a point where I’m trying to win more than once in a year. Everything is a progression and I’m just working towards getting better and moving the goal posts.”
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell
Donaldson’s Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose was four over par after four holes on Thursday and although he recovered to shoot 72 and then add rounds of 65 and 64, still found himself seven shots off the lead.
“I think I’ve done my part but I didn’t bank on everyone else going as low as they are,” Rose said. “Obviously Mr Levy is going ridiculous out there right now. I would have thought I’d be in a bit better shape going into Sunday than I am, but every credit to the lads that are keeping it going out there.
“If everything went my way today, five better is what I could have been. I missed probably five putts inside eight feet today and still shot eight under par. I had three eagle putts out there, so plenty of opportunities to go low.
“Quite clearly there’s lots of birdies to be had out there and I don’t know if things are going to change tomorrow, I hear there’s a bit of wind coming in so that might spice things up.”
Overnight leader Colsaerts is nine shots off the pace after a 73 which included a double-bogey six on the 18th.