Alexander Levy wins Volvo China Open

The 26-year-old Frenchman became the first two-time winner of the tournament when he beat Dylan Frittelli on the first playoff hole in a sudden death playoff.

France's Alexander Levy holds the trophy.   -  AFP

Alexander Levy overturned a seven-stroke deficit in the final round to win the Volvo China Open in a sudden-death playoff on Sunday. The 26-year-old Frenchman became the first two-time winner of the tournament when he beat Dylan Frittelli on the first playoff hole after the South African squandered a big lead.

The pair finished tied at the top of a congested leaderboard at 17-under par 271 after Levy closed with a five-under 67 and Frittelli - who was seven in front of the Frenchman at the start of the day and four clear of his nearest rival with nine holes to play - shot a final-round 74.

Replaying the par-5 18th, Levy sealed victory when he drained a 15-foot putt for birdie after Frittelli missed his birdie attempt and settled for par at the Topwin Golf and Country Club. "Early on, I was never really thinking I could win this tournament," Levy said. "I only started thinking (of winning) when I saw the leaderboard on 15 and I was only one shot behind. It's an amazing feeling to be back in the winner's circle."

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, who led at the halfway stage, ended a frustrating final day on the greens with a birdie at the last to finish outright third, just one shot behind at 16-under, after closing with a 72.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger (67) and England's Chris Wood (68) tied for fourth at 15-under. South Korea's former PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang shot a 66, the best score of the day, to finish level with England's Ross Fisher (67), a further shot adrift.

Frittelli, a team-mate of Jordan Spieth when they were both at the University of Texas, looked to be cruising towards his first European Tour title after opening up a four-shot lead with nine holes to play. The 26-year-old, who lost a playoff at the 2016 Australian PGA Championship, did not drop a single shot in his previous two rounds. But he saw his lead suddenly slashed in half when he double-bogeyed the par-5 12th after his errant drive ended up resting against a tree and he had to take a drop.

Stinging

He made amends when he drove the green on the 299-yard par-4 15th and made birdie. But he dropped another shot at the par-3 16th and was unable to pick up another birdie, which would have won him the title, at either of the last two holes. "It stings a little bit," said Frittelli. "I let it go there in the end but I'm still proud of the way I played this week, it's a great result - 17 under par on this golf course is nothing to scoff at. I'm sure I'm going to win, hopefully this season - that would be a great goal to achieve. I am hoping to have a very long career so I'm not going to let this get me down or be upset with anything."

Levy made six birdies in his final round, including one at the last when he narrowly missed a long downhill eagle putt, as he claimed his fourth professional title after previously winning the China Open (2014), the Portugal Masters (2014) and the European Open (2016).

"This means a lot because it was the first tournament I won on the European Tour," Levy said. "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."