The European Tour returns to Beijing this week for the 2018 Volvo China Open.
More than a third of the field will be Chinese golfers, including two of the last three champions of this event, Li Haotong and Ashun Wu.
But they should expect to have their hands full with Frenchman Alexander Levy. Not only is he the defending champ, he is also the only player to have won this event two times, taking home the title in 2014, as well. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also coming off a victory in last week’s Trophee Hassan II.
In total, eight players who have already won this year on the European Tour will be in this week’s field.
Here’s more on what to expect at this week’s Volvo China Open.
Tournament: Volvo China Open
Dates: April 26-29, 2018
Where: Beijing, China
Course: Topwin Golf & Country Club
Distance: Par 72, 7,261 yards
Architect: Ian Woosnam
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Purse: CNY 20,000,000
Winning Share: CNY 3,333,300
Defending Champion: Alexander Levy
Marquee Players: Levy, Li Haotong, Ashun Wu, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Bernd Wiesberger, Joost Luiten, Wade Ormsby, Paul Dunne, Julian Suri, Shubhankar Sharma, Matt Wallace, Thorbjorn Olesen, George Coetzee, Alvaro Quiros, Nicolas Colsaerts, Pablo Larrazabal, Yanwei Lui
TV AND ONLINE
Round 1: Wed 10:30 pm-12:30 am, 2:30-5:30 am (GOLF)
Round 2: Thur 10:30 pm-12:30 am, 2:30-5:30 am (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 12:30-5:00 am (GOLF)
Round 4: Sun 12:30-5:00 am (GOLF)
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The Volvo China Open, considered to be the open golf championship of China, has been played annually since 1995. This year marks the event’s 24th year of competition.
Golf has grown rapidly in China throughout this time frame. After having only two Chinese champions in the first 20 years of the event, two of the last three titles have been won by golfers from China, Ashun Wu in 2015 and Li Haotong in 2016.
The tournament has been a co-sanctioned event with the European Tour since 2003. This will be the third year it will be played at the Ian Woosnam-designed Topwin Golf & Country Club, which among its features includes a view of the Great Wall of China from nearly every hole. Past event champions include names like Branden Grace, Nicolas Colsaerts, Y.E. Yang, Paul Casey and Simon Dyson.
The title sponsor is Volvo, and this is the longest run of any of the sporting events of which they are the title sponsor.
1995-18: Volvo China Open
2017: Alexander Levy -17
2016: Li Haotong -22
2015: Wu Ashun -9
2014: Alexander Levy -19
2013: Brett Rumford -16
2012: Branden Grace -21
2011: Nicholas Colsaerts -24
SCORING: 264 (-24) Nicholas Colsaerts (2011)
WINS: 2 – Alexander Levy (2014, 2017)
Frenchman Alexander Levy beat South African Dylan Frittelli in a playoff to win the 2017 Volvo China Open.
Levy, who also won this event in 2014, began Sunday’s final round seven shots back of 54-hole leader Frittelli. Levy birdied the par-5 18th to finish at 17-under and force a playoff with Frittelli.
A birdie on the final hole would have won it for Frittelli, but his second shot sailed over the hospitality tent and eventually settled for par-5 to finish at 2-over for the day, and tied with Levy at 17-under.
On the first playoff hole, No. 18, both players were on the green in three and had putts for birdie. Frittelli missed his attempt, but Levy dropped his from 15 feet for the win.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Alexander Levy -17
2 Dylan Frittelli -17
3 Pablo Larrazabal -16
4 Bernd Wiesberger -15
4 Chris Wood -15
6 Ross Fisher -14
6 Y.E. Yang -14
8 George Coetzee -13
9 Jorge Campillo -12
9 Soomin Lee -12
You have to give the favorite’s nod to Alexander Levy, based on his status as a two-time winner of this event, including as defending champ, and the fact he’s coming off victory in last week’s Trophee Hassan II in Morocco.
Levy was ranked outside the world’s top 100 players prior to his victory in Beijing last year. Now, after adding another win last week, he’s up to No. 47 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Another player whose expectations will be as high as Levy’s — and who will have the home crowd advantage — is Li Haotong. The current No. 44 player in the world was a winner earlier this year on one of the most visible international stages, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. That was his second European Tour victory, to go with his 2016 Volvo China Open. He also made the cut earlier this month in his first appearance at The Masters.
The Chinese contingent in the field also includes the 2015 winner of this event, Wu Ashun. Two up-and-coming golfers to watch are Liu Zehao, the 2017 Volvo China Junior Championship winner, and Chen Guxin (AM), China’s 2017 amateur champion.
The highest-ranked player in the field in the Official World Golf Rankings is Kiradech Aphibarnrat, currently ranked No. 32. He will be paired with Levy and Haotong in what promises to be a group that will command much of the gallery’s attention.
Other top-ranked players include Bernd Wiesberger (No. 60), Paul Dunne (No. 69), Julian Suri (No. 72), Shubhankar Sharma (No. 73), and Joost Luiten (No. 76).
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images