Hoey finishes strongly at China Open

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey

Frenchman Alexander Levy claimed his first European Tour title on Sunday despite seeing his five-shot cushion cut to just one on the back nine of his final round at the Volvo China Open.

The 23-year-old was three strokes clear at Genzon Golf Club heading into Sunday and looked to be on course for a comfortable victory as he calmly progressed through a flawless first 14 holes with 11 pars and three birdies.

A double-bogey six at the 15th gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope, but he swiftly recovered with birdies on 17 and 18 for a final-round 69 which saw him finish four shots clear of England’s Tommy Fleetwood (68).

Michael Hoey finished tied for eighth after a final round 68 that left have been even better.

Five birdies in his opening nine holes saw Michael race up the leaderboard and two more birdies followed at the 11th and 14th, but his round unravelled over the closing holes with a double bogey at the 16th followed by a bogey a the 18th.

I didnt feel great today, the sweat was lashing off me and I don’t know what it was,” said the five-time tour winner.

“I knew it was going to be quite hard all day and towards the end of the round I was getting really tired and I did throw the round away but I was trying my best.

“I just couldn’t quite keep it going today. It’s been a long hot two weeks.

“I could easily have been third or fourth but still, I would have taken that finish at the start of the week.”

Hoey began the season searching for more consistency and his work with coaches Justin Parson and Johnny Foster appears to be bearing fruit.

He has made 10 cuts in a row and is currently placed 34th in the Race to Dubai.

“I couldn’t quite control myself at the end there and I could have done a bit better but I was trying,” added Michael.

“I wanted to be consistent this year and so far I have been. There’s been some good stuff but need to work on a few fade shots. I still draw it a bit too much in tricky situations. If I can get that shot down I will definitely progress

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks so I’m going home to recharge and try and get ready for the Spanish Open (May 15-18).”

Fleetwood made a flying start to his final round with three straight birdies - sinking 25-foot putts at the second and third - to get himself firmly in the hunt.

His cause was not helped by a bogey on 13, having hit a wayward drive into the hazard but another superb long putt ensured a birdie at the 14th - shortly before Levy’s nightmare on 15.

The Frenchman putted through the green into thick rough and required three shots from there.

That saw Levy’s lead reduced to just one shot, but he denied that his blip on 15 had been down to nerves - insisting he relished the pressure of being out in front.

He said;“I didn’t feel pressure - it was a difficult putt, difficult pin position, my ball was in the divot.

“It was a difficult shot, I made double bogey but I knew I was playing well and I was only thinking about my game.

“I hit one of my best shots on 17. I didn’t feel pressure on the golf course because I’m confident. I just played my golf and focused on the target.”

I saw Tommy made a birdie on the 17th, but I like the pressure.”

Levy’s triumph - for which he set the tone with a course-record 62 on Friday - meant he became the 20th different winner of the event, in its 20th staging.

Spain’s Alvaro Quiros (72) finished third, six strokes behind Levy’s 19-under total, with Italy’s Francesco Molinari (67) a further shot back and Denmark’s Anders Hansen (63), Swede Henrik Stenson (65) and England’s Ian Poulter (67) joint fifth on 11 under.