Levy maintains 3-shot lead at China Open

The Associated Press
Levy maintains 3-shot lead at China Open
.

View gallery

SHENZHEN, China (AP) -- A day after Alexander Levy played a near-perfect 62 in the second round at the China Open - the best 18-hole score of his career - the Frenchman was happy just to get off the course with a 2-under 70 Saturday in pelting rain with gusting winds.

That was solid enough to maintain a three-stroke lead over Alvaro Quiros of Spain heading into the final round.

''It was tough to stay focused, but I kept my mind in good condition and played some good shots,'' Levy said.

Levy, aiming for his first European Tour title, wasn't nearly as accurate as he was on Friday, when he holed a 20-foot putt for eagle and made eight birdies en route to setting a new course record at Genzon Golf Club.

But he handled the nasty weather at the start of the third round and maintained his composure after bogeying Nos. 14 and 16, managing to avoid a third bogey with a 15-foot putt for par on the 18th. He has a 16-under total of 200.

Levy knows he will face a lot more pressure on Sunday, even with a three-stroke cushion. Last year, he was tied with Ernie Els for the lead heading into the final round of the BMW International Open, but committed four bogeys in his last nine holes to slip to third.

''I will be nervous, but because you're nervous doesn't mean you can't play well,'' he said. ''I'll sleep nicely because I'm tired. It was a long day with the weather and difficult golf course.''

Quiros has six European Tour titles to his credit but hasn't got a win - or even a top-three finish - since his title at the Dubai World Championship in November 2011.

''If Alex plays really well then we might not be able to catch him,'' Quiros said. ''It has been two-and-a-half years since I won so I have not had those feelings for a long time.''

Finland's Mikko Ilonen was four strokes back in third place after a 67, while England's Tommy Fleetwood (67) and Spain's Adrian Otaegui (71) were another stroke behind in a tie for fourth.

A day after 15-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang failed to make the cut, another young homegrown talent, 18-year-old Li Haotong, shot a 67 to match the lowest score of the day and jump into joint eighth at 7 under.

With the leaders so far ahead, Li is playing for another goal - a big payday. The golf club has pledged to double the purse for any Chinese player finishing in the top five.

While Guan has received most of the attention in China after his breakthrough performance at last year's Masters, where he became the youngest player to make the cut, Li is perhaps better poised to make an immediate impact on the game.

Last year, he signed an endorsement deal with Nike and coped remarkably well against elite fields at the HSBC Champions and BMW Masters in his hometown of Shanghai, finishing tied for 39th and 42nd, respectively.

And after practicing on the Genzon Golf Club course for the last two months, he's close to his first top-five finish.

''I'm very happy. I want to keep that name on the leaderboard,'' he said.

England's Ian Poulter also shot a 67 Saturday to move up to equal 11th place. But Poulter said he was still smarting from a two-stroke penalty he incurred on the 13th hole Friday when he improperly measured his drop after hitting into the rough.

He took a triple-bogey 8 on the hole, following a double bogey on the 12th.

''I shouldn't be happy with the position I'm in. I dropped five shots yesterday in two holes. It's unacceptable. It's disgraceful,'' he said. ''I should be a lot closer to the lead, but that's golf. You can't have it perfect all the time.''

Third-ranked Henrik Stenson would certainly agree. The Swede hasn't played his best since coming down with the flu earlier this week, and couldn't make up any ground on the leaders Saturday, falling 12 shots behind after shooting a 71.

He needed a win here to take over the top ranking from Tiger Woods - a goal that now appears well out of reach.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Did Minnesota wildly overpay for Coyotes’ Martin Hanzal?

      Did Minnesota wildly overpay for Coyotes’ Martin Hanzal?

      Martin Hanzal is a nice player. After three years getting above 0.60 points per game, he’s dipped back to 0.51 in 51 games with the Arizona Coyotes this season, his 16 goals led the team. Arizona retained 50-percent of Hanzal’s $3.1 million cap … More »

      Puck Daddy - 1 hour 13 minutes ago
    • LA Kings trade for Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay Lightning

      LA Kings trade for Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay Lightning

      The Los Angeles Kings have acquired goaltender Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. The Lightning picked up Los Angeles goaltender Peter Budaj, 19-year-old defensive prospect Erik Cernak, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft and a … More »

      Puck Daddy - 2 hours 20 minutes ago
    • Vancouver Canucks say more players have mumps symptoms

      Vancouver Canucks say more players have mumps symptoms

      Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins handles the puck against Ben Hutton of the Vancouver Canucks at the TD Garden on February 11, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Vancouver Canucks announced the possibility of more cases of mumps with the team. … More »

      Puck Daddy - 3 hours ago
    • World Baseball Classic 2017: Can the Dominican Republic repeat as champion?

      World Baseball Classic 2017: Can the Dominican Republic repeat as champion?

      From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. The Dominican Republic has one thing in mind entering the 2017 World Baseball Classic: Repeat. With … More »

      Big League Stew - 5 hours ago
    • Ex-Sabres enforcer Peters suspended after youth brawl

      Ex-Sabres enforcer Peters suspended after youth brawl

      Andrew Peters of the Buffalo Sabres watches as they play against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 15, 2007 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. Former Buffalo Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended from coaching the Jr. Sabres after his … More »

      Puck Daddy - 7 hours ago