Exuberant Alexander Levy Secures Double Victory in China
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
Alexander Levy overturned a seven-shot deficit to become the first man to win the Volvo China Open twice as he defeated Dylan Frittelli in a playoff at Topwin Golf and Country Club.
The 2014 champion birdied the final hole for a closing 67 to get to 17 under. Frittelli sent his second shot into the 18th over a hospitality tent and had to settle for a par, a closing 74 and a trip back up the 18th.
Levy found the fairway off the tee while Frittelli found a bunker. The Frenchman put his second into the sand and both men were left facing birdie putts at the par five. Frittelli missed before Levy converted from 15 feet to claim victory. He is becoming something of a playoff specialist, having lost a play-off in China at the 2014 BMW Masters and winning he Porsche European Open in September after a playoff.
This is Levy's fourth European Tour title and he is now focusing on making Thomas Bjorn's Ryder Cup team at Le Golf National in 2018. "It's a goal and a dream for me to play the Ryder Cup in France," he said. "I will do a lot of work to play the Ryder Cup and I will do my best to be part of the team.
"It is an amazing feeling to be back in the winner's circle. This means a lot because it was the first tournament I won on the European Tour. I won last year after a bad injury and to come back with the win was very tough for me. I'm really happy with what I did today."
Passion. pic.twitter.com/YQOcJrlY6G— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 30, 2017
Pablo Larrazabal began the day as Frittelli's closest challenger and the Spaniard signed for a closing 72 to finish at 16 under, a shot clear of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and England's Chris Wood.
Larrazabal three-putted the first and failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the par three second and Frittelli found himself five ahead of the chasing pack. lBut a putt from the fringe on the fifth almost rolled back to his feet and he dropped a first shot in 44 holes. He bounced back with a superb birdie at the seventh, hitting his approach to two feet, and moving back to 19 under.
Larrazabal hit a stunning second into the par-five eighth and while he had to settle for a birdie, Frittelli could only make par after failing to get up and down from the sand.
Levy made a steady start before going birdie-bogey-birdie from the sixth and when he hit a glorious approach on the ninth to turn in 34, he was creeping up on the leader.
Another birdie on the 11th saw Levy draw alongside Larrazabal. And he found himself only two adrift of Frittelli when the South African recorded a double-bogey at the 12th. A birdie at the par-four 15th saw Levy head to the final three holes just one behind.
Frittelli also birdied the 15th but gave it straight back at the 16th. Levy then birdied the final hole to draw level. Wiesberger, who won last week, continued his excellent form, closing with a 67, while Wood had a 68. YE Yang – the 2010 champion – recorded the round of the day in a 66 to join Ross Fisher at 14 under, a shot clear of George Coetzee and two ahead of Jorge Campillo and Soomin Lee.
Kevin Kisner chipped in from 90 feet for an eagle on the final hole to force a playoff in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Kisner and his partner, Scott Brown, tied with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith in the most dramatic fashion on a rainswept day. As darkness fell, the players and galleries were forced to leave the course and come back on Monday to find the winning pair.
"We knew we had to hole it," Kisner said. "I knew Blixt and Smith were going to make birdie. All I was trying to do was make sure I didn't leave it short."
Kisner's shot hit the pin before dropping in. "I knew I hit it a little too hard when I touched it, but I loved the line, and when it hit the flag, I said, `Just please don't come out of there,'" Kisner recalled. "It's just one of those shots that you dream about."
It also forced 23-year-old Smith to make two-feet birdie putt to remain in contention for his maiden PGA TOUR victory. "It was tough, but we fought well on the back nine," Smith said.
Kisner and Brown shot a 12-under 60 in best-ball play, and Blixt and Smith had a 64 to finish at 27 under at the TPC Louisiana in the PGA TOUR's first team event in 36 years. The score of 60 didn't count as a course record, but it was two strokes better than any score posted when the Zurich was a traditional strokeplay event.
"I can't say it's another day, but you've got to go home, recharge, and pretty much forget everything you've done the last four days and just go out and make a birdie or eagle or whatever to win it," Blixt said. "You've got to expect the unexpected. I don't know. We get another shot at it tomorrow, and we've just got to leave this behind."
The round finished in darkness because of a six-hour delay cause by thunderstorms. Blixt and Smith played 72 holes without a bogey, which is a remarkable achievement. They led after the second and third rounds, but had to overcome a remarkable run by Brown and Kisner, who birdied 10 of their first 11 holes. Blixt made a 5-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and Smith did the same on 17th to put themselves back in the lead.
Returning on Monday, it was a struggle for both pairs, who couldn't make a birdie in three holes of the playoff, before the young Australian produced a moment of magic to secure the title for himself and Blixt. The first of many victories for the Queenslander you have to expect, who was emotional at the end.
The tournament is the first team event on the PGA TOUR since the Walt Disney World National Team Championship in 1981. The Zurich Classic began with 80 two-player teams, with players choosing their teammates.
Players on each team played alternate shots in the first and third rounds. In the second and final rounds, each player played their own balls and each team took the best score per hole.
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