In-form Levy facing battle for China Open title

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Alexander Levy will be looking to maintain his strong form and regain the China Open title at the Topwin Golf and Country Club.

Levy shared an early lead with eventual winner Lee Soomin at the Shenzhen International last week, but fell three shots off the pace and finished tied fourth.

But the Frenchman, ranked 100th in the world, has previous in the event. He became the youngest player to claim the title in 2014 aged 24, but finished tied third when attempting to defend it one year later.

He faces heavy competition, however, with five other former champions in the field.

 

LEE ON A HIGH, LUITEN AND LEVY LURKING

Lee became the first wire-to-wire winner on the European Tour this season, leading at the end of every round en route to the Shenzhen International title. Back-to-back triumphs would be a hugely impressive feat, but he will likely have Joost Luiten breathing down his neck once again - the Dutchman is edging closer to a first victory since 2014 after finishing as runner-up at the last two events. Levy came second in Australia in February and, following his previous showing, will be confident heading to Beijing.

TOUR DEBUT IN BEIJING

The Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing will host a European Tour event for the first time this week. The course has just three holes without water hazards, though conditions are expected to be far drier than at the rain-delayed Shenzhen International.

JIMENEZ SHOWING SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT

It has been a difficult start to the season for Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard missed the cut in his opening three European Tour events and subsequently dropped out of the top 100. However, a tied-13th finish at the Shenzhen International showed marked improvement.

WU LOOKING FOR MORE HISTORY

Wu Ashun became the first Chinese winner of a European Tour event in this competition last year when he held off David Howell. The Englishman missed the chance to force a play-off when he failed to sink an eight-foot putt for par on the final hole, leaving him one shot behind Wu, who claimed the title on nine under par.

THE INDEFENSIBLE TITLE

Wu will be looking to become the first player to successfully defend the China open. The 21 previous editions have seen 21 different winners.

The China Open was the first European Tour event to be played twice in the same season, with Paul Casey winning in November 2005 and Jeev Milkha Singh in April 2006.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING

Jimenez feeling confident: "I feel good right now, I've been hitting the ball well again. I have a bit more confidence now and my putter has started working again, the stroke is coming back. I feel good and I hope I can give myself a chance to compete at the weekend."

Former champion Wu keen for strong approach: "The greens are difficult. The greens are very hard. I will grasp the putting skill, it's very important for me. I will try my best to put the ball in the right place on the green."