Volvo China Open: Alexander Lévy Wins in Dramatic Fashion

Aug 11, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Alexander Levy hits onto the 16th green during a practice round for the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits -The Straits Course. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Alexander Levy hits onto the 16th green during a practice round for the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits -The Straits Course. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Alexander Lévy made a pair of key birdies to win in a playoff at the Volvo China Open

The Volvo China Open and Alexander Lévy seem to be a matched set. Regardless of venue, come Sunday at the Volvo China Open, the European Tour star is in the mix.

The Frenchman won his second career Volvo China Open title this week at Topwin Golf and Country Club, three years removed from winning the same tournament at Genzon Golf Club.

Lévy has shot par or better in his last 16 rounds at the VCO across three venues with two wins, a T3 and a T28 composing his results sheet.

He’s emerged as France’s top golfer and is one of the more charismatic figures on the European Tour.

How did things sort out?

A playoff between two 26-year-olds, Lévy and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, was needed to crown a champion at the 2017 Volvo China Open.

To start, Lévy opened Thursday with a bogey-free nine-under 63 to lead by one. He was a ball-striking machine through the first two days hitting 35 of 36 greens in regulation, the first on tour to do so in three years.

Lévy managed only a 70, though, Friday and entered the weekend tied with Frittelli three back of 36-hole leader Pablo Larrazábal. Pleasant weather and a gettable course made for low scoring across the board.

Frittelli followed his second-round 63 staying hot with a Saturday 64. He entered Sunday in search of his first European Tour win in his 50th start. Frittelli led by three over Larrazábal, who carded a 70 in round three.

A bunched leaderboard formed Sunday as Frittelli frittered the lead away. He played the par-fives in two-over and made just two birdies en route to a 74 and a 17-under tournament total. His chance at a tournament-clinching birdie on the 18th fell flat.

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Larrazábal broke a nine-hole par streak making a birdie on the par-five 18th playing alongside Frittelli but it wasn’t enough as he finished with a 72 thanks to two opening bogeys.

The final pairing’s struggles opened the door for Lévy who entered the day seven back.

Lévy was still seven back after seven holes before his surge began. He made the first of three birdies in four holes on No. 8 and closed with five birdies and no bogeys in his final 10 holes, including a birdie on the 18th to force Frittelli to match to win outright.

The same scenario played out in the playoff as Lévy sunk his birdie putt from about 15-20 feet away after splashing out from the bunker. Frittelli laid up but still had a longer putt that missed the mark.

Shades of Lévy’s celebration at his last win, the 2016 Porsche European, came through as Lévy let out a yell and a joyous fist pump for his fourth European Tour triumph.

Quick Chips

  • Lévy’s Volvo China Open win is too early to count for official European Tour Ryder Cup points, which begin to accumulate at the Czech Masters in September. The 2018 Ryder Cup is in France, though. If Lévy continues pace — he’s made six straight cuts, three of which are top-10s — he will be an attractive name for captain Thomas Bjørn to watch.
  • Lévy will be back in the top 100 in the world. He reached his peak in the OWGR in 2015 at No. 49
  • Bernd Wiesberger finished two back in a tie for fourth place this week in search of back-to-back wins in China. He was the only player to post four rounds in the 60s and saved his best for last with a Sunday 67.
  • Remember Y.E. Yang? The former Tiger slayer has about as many high finishes of late as the wounded legend he beat back in 2009. Riding six consecutive missed cuts or withdrawals and no worldwide top-10s since the October 2015 Hong Kong Open, Yang fired an unmatched Sunday 66 to finish tied for sixth.
  • Li Haotong defended his 2016 championship at Topwin well. The 21-year-old countryman was under par all four rounds en route to an 11-under total to finish six adrift in a tie for 11th.
  • Lévy’s and Frittelli’s nine-under 63s were the low scores of the week.
  • Frittelli’s Sunday 74 was the only 18-hole score over par of anyone in the top five and tied for the highest of any in the top 20.
  • Seventeen-year-old Chinese amateur Ye Wo-cheng made the cut on the number thanks to a Friday 69 and finished 59th. By now, Wo-cheng is practically a steely vet. He also competed at the Volvo China Open in 2013 as a 12-year-old.

Next: Golf Tip: Building Core Strength and Balance

Top 10 Leaderboard

Playoff (par-5 18th hole): Levy 4, Frittelli 5

T1. Alexander Lévy* — 17-under (63-70-71-67)

T1. Dylan Frittelli — 17-under (70-63-64-74)

3. Pablo Larrazábal — 16-under (64-66-70-72)

T4. Bernd Wiesberger — 15-under (69-68-69-67)

T4. Chris Wood — 15-under (72-68-65-68)

T6. Ross Fisher — 14-under (73-70-64-67)

T6. Y.E. Yang — 14-under (69-68-71-66)

8. George Coetzee — 13-under (67-69-71-68)

T9. Jorge Campillo — 12-under (68-70-70-68)

T9. Soomin Lee — 12-under (69-65-73-69)