After last week's stop in Malaysia, the European Tour headed to the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen this week for the China Open.
After two years of the event being played at Binhai Lake Golf Club, Genzon provides a new challenge for the players.
Day 4 Report
Alexander Levy kept his cool in Shenzen to win the China Open with a final score of 19-under-par.
The Frenchman held off a late rally from Tommy Fleetwood to triumph by four shots, shooting a three-under-par final round. Victory here is the Frenchman’s first on the European Tour.
|Player||Day 4 Score||Final Score Total|
Levy started the day on 16-under-par, looking to build on the three-shot lead that he’d accumulated over the first three days. But as is often the case on the final day, players were looking to make a late run towards the title.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey was one, as he started the day in scintillating fashion. He struck five birdies on the front nine, as he scythed his way through the field and up towards the top of the leader-board.
Even more impressive was Denmark’s Anders Hansen, who hit nine birdies to shoot a superb round of 63. Unfortunately for him though, he was a little too far back to make an impression, eventually finishing on 11-under-par.
For Levy, it was just a case of staying composed under the pressure of leading. A course-record round of 62 on Day 2 provided him with a superb foundation for the weekend, meaning he could relax, settle into a rhythm and take minimal risks on days three and four.
The early stages of his round suggested that safety was the order of the day here. Levy played conservatively but astutely, making it to the turn at one-under for the day. And whilst golfers further down the leader-board were taking risks in an attempt to haul in the Frenchman, the challengers were beginning to falter.
Hoey’s momentum was shunted after a double bogey at 16, whilst the man in third place Alvaro Quiros sent an eagle putt agonisingly close at 13, meaning his chances were also looking increasingly unlikely.
The only man that looked capable of troubling Levy was Englishman Fleetwood. A birdie at 14 put him four back on Levy, and he was offered a glimmer of hope when the leader took six at the par-four 15, reducing the lead to just two.
Birdie on 14. 4 shots back now! Go Tommy Fleetwood— Tommy Fleetwood Fans (@TFleetwoodFans) April 27, 2014
When Fleetwood birdied the 17th, the lead was whittled down to just one.
But Levy, as he has done all week, remained composed. He too birdied 17, and when Fleetwood went on to bogey the last, the Frenchman was able to enjoy his walk up the 18th fairway knowing the title was already in the bag. Knocking in a birdie at the last was coupe de grace.
Despite his low world ranking, expect to see more of Levy now this first title has been secured. He is a player that has been lingering around the upper reaches of the leader-boards for a while without really penetrating at the very top.
But he’s showcased enough this weekend to suggest he has the game to challenge on the European tour on a much more regular basis. He is technically sound and clearly capable under pressure. At 23-years-old, this could be the start of a very prosperous career for the Frenchman.
Day 3 Report
After a quite stunning round of golf on Day 2 of this tournament, leader Alexander Levy needed only to remain calm and focused to stay ahead of the field.
The 23-year-old Frenchman started the day in fine style and a second-hole birdie saw him pull further clear of the remaining pack. His joy was short-lived however as he immediately dropped a shot with a wild swipe off of the tee that found the sand.
Despite the elementary nature of the mistake, some studious stroke play across the next five holes saw him stay clear of his nearest pursuers, Alvaro Quiros and Adrian Otaegui.
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Both Spaniards provided a constant presence behind the leader however, with Quiros particularly in fine fettle.
He made gains throughout and was on the 15th before he dropped a shot. His four under-par round of 68, to leave him just three shots behind Levy on 13-under for the tournament, gives him a great chance on the final day.
Rather the hunter than the hunted.
Aside from the odd wayward drive from Otaegui, some excellent work on the greens allowed him to keep on the coat-tails of the leaders.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen was enjoying one of the rounds of the day which included four birdies on the front nine. His charge keeps him right in contention as we enter the final day’s play.
Another to enjoy a fantastic day was England’s Ian Poulter. His five under par on the day took him into the top ten at six under for the tournament.
Were it not for his issues on Friday detailed on EuropeanTour.com, it’s entirely possible Poulter could have been looking at a decent finish in the competition.
Fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood also carded five-under after going through the full repertoire during his 18 holes.
Whilst his charge may have come a little too late for the main prize, a jump of three places keeps him right in the chasing pack, and ready to pounce on any more errors from the Frenchman.
That Levy managed to retain his composure throughout the round on Saturday is of great credit to the youngster.
Constant pressure to pull out shots must surely have weighed heavily on his shoulders. Not that you would’ve known.
An ability to chip in when required didn’t desert him, and whilst his lead has been whittled to an achievable three shots, he has shown enough across the three days to suggest he is in with a genuine shout for his first European Tour title.
Day 2 Report
Alexander Levy carded a terrific 10-under round to storm into the lead after the second day's play at the China Open. The Frenchman's excellent 62—led by a confident eagle on the ninth—put him four shots ahead of second-placed Adrian Otaegui on an overall score of 14-under.
Joint Day 1 leaders Alvaro Quiros and Simon Dyson fell to third and tied-seventh respectively. Here's a look at the current leaderboard:
|Player||Day 2 Score||Total|
Check out the European Tour's official website for a full update of the current rankings.
Levy, who scuppered his early Day 1 lead with bogeys at the eighth and 15th, showed greater signs of consistency with a confident showing throughout on Friday. His eight birdies provided the platform toward taking a comfortable advantage, while the aforementioned eagle putt from 25 feet left him racing ahead of the pack.
"It is a great round for me," Levy said, reported by the European Tour's official website. "I played unbelievably today and it’s the first time I have played like that. I really like the course and it is in great shape."
Ranked No. 282 in the world before the start of play, Levy's career-low score places him comfortably ahead of Otaegui, whose three tournament bogeys keep him at arm's length. Despite registering an impressive six-under round, the Spaniard dropped a shot on the ninth to spoil his overall score.
Day 1 pacesetter Quiros suffered an unpredictable second round, posting six pars, an eagle and four bogeys. He resides one shot ahead of Raphael Jacquelin, whose day elapsed a lot more predictably than his nearest target. The Frenchman gained six pars, but will be disappointed to have not taken advantage of Quiros' mishaps by bogeying the 16th.
Mikko Illonen, easily the most experienced player inside the leaderboard's upper echelons with a world ranking of 65, pushed his overall score to seven-under with a four-under 68. Scotland's Richie Ramsay follows him all the way after also posting a quartet of pars.
An English battle ensues below the pair, after Tommy Fleetwood gained major ground on Dyson, who dropped six places during Day 2. Fleetwood's four-under round keeps him in contention with a total of six-under, while Dyson possesses the same score. He managed just three pars and two bogeys in the process.
Elsewhere, world No. 3 Henrik Stenson posted a two-under round to take his overall score to three-under. He's joint 20th heading into Day 3.
Levy's sudden burst of form makes him a genuine contender at the top of the leaderboard. His four-shot lead ensures he can play steady, solid golf during the remainder of the competition and still remain one of the favourites after such an excellent second round.
Both Otaegui and Quiros continue to halt their progress with badly timed mistakes. The leaderboard remains congested below Levy, signalling we can expect further change if the pair falter during Saturday's action.
Day 1 Report
Two players are tied for the lead after the first day of action in China. Spain's Alvaro Quiros and England's Simon Dyson both shot five-under-par scores of 67.
A handful of players sit one shot back, including last year's winner, Brett Rumford. Europe's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter is the most high-profile player of the stack who sit two off the lead.
Play was suspended due to darkness with only a handful of players left on the course, including France's Alexander Levy, who briefly shared the lead before bogeying his penultimate hole.
Here's a look at the current leaderboard:
|Player||Day 1 Score||Total|
|Alexander Levy||One hole remaining||-4|
|Il-Hwan Park||One hole remaining||-4|
Check out the European Tour's official website for a full update of the current rankings.
Starting on the 10th, Dyson bogeyed his opening hole but proceeded to make birdies on the next two to get his round off to a decent start.
Without another bogey in his whole round, the Englishman, who won this tournament back in 2000, carded an impressive score by finishing with two consecutive birdies.
As reported by the European Tour's official website, the 36-year-old was very satisfied with his opening 18 holes:
I started on the tenth today and the first nine holes I played was the best I have played for quite some time. I really didn’t miss a shot. [...]
It was a good start and very pleasing. I have to say that because I was absolutely horrendous in the pro-am yesterday.
Dyson is bidding to become the first player to ever win the China Open twice and could hardly be in better shape after Round 1.
Meanwhile, Quiros also looked good on the first day as he aimed for his first European Tour win since 2011. The Spaniard made a quick start with opening birdies at the first two holes and then saw out the front nine with a string of pars.
His only setback came on the 10th, where he shot a bogey five, but an eagle three on the par-five 13th and two birdies in the last five holes saw him home in some style.
Quiros was happy with his opening round but feels it could have gone even better, again via the European Tour's website: "It was a good round of golf. It was a bit of a shame on the last par five because I was half a metre away from having a great chance to make another eagle but I ended up on the lip of the bunker and had to settle for a chip and two putts."
Poulter shot a very respectable 69, which included four birdies, but he may be unhappy that his one bogey came on a par-five, an area in which he felt he must improve after the Masters two weeks ago:
Beyond disgusted with my performance on the par 5's for the week. The simple facts on winning a green jacket is you have to play them well.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) April 13, 2014
A pre-tournament favourite, Sweden's Henrik Stenson has the opportunity to get to world No. 1 with a win in China, per sports journalist Paul Mahoney:
Henrik Stenson can replace Tiger Woods as No.1 with victory in China Open on @European_Tour. He's -1 after R1. Leaders Quiros and Dyson -5.— Paul Mahoney (@paulmahoneygolf) April 24, 2014
Stenson is currently tied for 38th after a one-under-par 71. His round included five birdies and four bogeys.
Of the 33 Chinese players in the field, Ashun Wu leads the way after shooting a 69 for his opening round.
The leaderboard is very congested after Day 1, with no one player making a significant tilt for a big early lead. That leaves the competition wide open, and none of the big names have written off their chances.
Expect Poulter and Stenson to definitely be in with a shout come the weekend, while Quiros and Dyson will look to consolidate their strong starts with decent rounds on Friday.