Defending his Volvo China Open title probably couldn’t have rolled around at a better time for Alexander Levy: one week after earning his fifth European Tour title at the Trophee Hassan II.
The Frenchman is also the only two-time winner in this event’s history. Combine that with his one-stroke victory last week and the odds look heavily in his favour.Embed from Getty Images
Behind Levy in Morocco last week was Alvaro Quiros who will be at Topwin Golf and Country Club this week, as will all of Mikko Ilonen, Andrea Pavan, Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren from tied third aiming to go a few better.
The win here for Levy last year was his fourth as he overcame Dylan Frittelli on the first hole of a play-off. The latter will not be joining his defeater in Beijing this year, though.
But past champions from 2016 in Haotong Li (on home soil striving to become the first Chinese player to win three European Tour titles), 2015 in Ashun Wu, 2013 in Brett Rumford, 2011 in Nicolas Colsaerts and 2006 in Jeev Milkha Singh will all join Levy and aim to join him as a multiple-winner.
Of the 14 European Tour events so far in 2018, six have been in Asia and of those six winners there will be Li (Omega Dubai Desert Classic), two-time winner this season Shubhankar Sharma (Maybank Championship), Joost Luiten (NBO Oman Open) and Matt Wallace (Hero India Open) looking to win in Asia again for this one.
The field majority, though, comes from China. There’s 156 men taking to Topwin. 42 of them will have the full backing of the Chinese support.
It will be the third straight year of this event at Topwin Golf and Country Club. It first hosted Li’s 2016 win and was only confirmed for a third successive year in February.
Opened in 2011 and designed by Ian Woosnam, the course is most famed for the continual view of the Great Wall of China sitting on the horizon.Embed from Getty Images
It’s famed, less so, for its challenging set-up. In the two outings thus far the winning scores have been 22 and 17-under-par; for a new, and vastly unfamiliar, golf course it has been seemingly walked over by the players in the past two years.
In stature, though, this event is right up there for the European Tour. The Race to Dubai points sit at 3,000,000 which equals the highest for the tour this season (excluding majors and WGCs) from the Desert Swing.
Currently sitting ninth in the Race to Dubai rankings, a hefty chunk of those points would be very welcome for tournament favourite Levy in his quest to get a home Ryder Cup spot at Le Golf National in September.