Frenchman Alexander Levy won the first professional tournament of his fledgling career Sunday, holding off a spirited charge from England’s Tommy Fleetwood in the $3.2 million Volvo China Open.
The 23-year-old overnight leader showed few nerves as he plotted his way around Shenzhen’s par-72 Genzon Golf Club in 69 for a total score of 19-under-par and the $530,000 winner’s cheque.
“It’s a very nice feeling and I’m very happy,” said Levy, who was showered in champagne on the 18th green by several of his compatriots on the tour before an overexuberant fan tried to run off with his cap.
“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure on the golf course because I was confident,” he added.
Levy, who played with a smile throughout, had started the final round three strokes ahead of Alvaro Quiros and was soon four ahead when the Spaniard bogeyed the first hole.
It quickly got worse for the big-hitting Quiros as he played aggressive golf in a bid to gain ground on Levy but dropped further back to go out in one-over par.
Levy, whose previous best finish in a tournament was third at last year’s BMW International Open, picked up a shot at the sixth to complete his first nine in one-under 34.
France’s world number 282 was five shots ahead of Quiros at the turn and by now the biggest threat was coming from the match in front, where the 23-year-old Fleetwood was making a move.
The Englishman, ranked 108 in the standings, started with three straight birdies before chipping in for another on the ninth to get to minus 15.
He suffered a setback on the par-5 13th when he drove into a hazard on his way to a bogey, his first since the 16th hole of round one.
Minutes later Levy made a birdie at 13 to go five shots ahead with five holes left before Fleetwood bounced back with a 30-foot birdie putt at the 14th.
Levy — who had held the lead since a sublime 62 Friday — showed his first sign of nerves at the next, stumbling to a double bogey which reduced the gap to just two with three holes to play.
– ‘Fantastic week’ –
Fleetwood, chasing his second European Tour title, then birdied the 17th but Levy immediately matched it after hitting a stunning three iron onto the green from 220 metres (yards).
“I hit a good drive onto the fairway, then saw Tommy make a birdie to go just one shot from me.
“I closed my eyes and hit one of the best shots of the week. It was an amazing shot.”
Levy followed with another birdie at 18 after a Fleetwood bogey to clinch a four-shot victory over the Englishman, who finished alone in second with Quiros third.
“It’s been a fantastic week… for me,” Fleetwood said. “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.
“We aim for wins, but today… I had to play outstanding golf. Alex has led from Friday, and that’s one of the hardest things you can do. What a performance from him.”
Denmark’s Anders Hansen enjoyed the round of the day at the 7,145-yard-long course, making nine birdies for a 63.
He finished tied 5th with world number three Henrik Stenson (65) and Ian Poulter (67) on 11-under.
PGA champion Jason Dufner ended a miserable week with a 75, which included an eight, to finish tied 54th on level par.
Ouyang Zheng was the leading Chinese player at four-under.
One of Sunday’s biggest cheers came on the 12th when England’s Danny Willett got a hole-in-one to win a Volvo V40 car.
It was the second ace of the day, coming after Marcel Siem of Germany’s three-iron shot dropped in on the eighth.
The 20th edition of China’s national championship was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and OneAsia.