Levy hits the front in China Open

Alexander Levy made a promising start to his bid to win the China Open for a second time by moving into a one-shot lead after the first round on Thursday.

The Frenchman was crowned China Open champion in Shenzhen two years ago and hit the ground running at Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing on day one, carding a blemish-free nine-under 63.

Levy finished in a share of eighth place at the Shenzhen International last weekend and gave himself a great chance of mounting a challenge again in China, making six birdies on the front nine and another three after the turn.

World number 102 Levy has never missed a cut in the seven tournaments he has entered in China and, bar a second-round collapse, ought to preserve that record on Friday.

"I played great," Levy said. "I hit 18 greens and had some good putts for birdie, two or three long putts that helped but I played well last week and I am enjoying being back here and at this golf course.

"I like the golf courses in China, the last one and this one, but the golf is different day after day and I will try my best this week to do like what I did today."

Pablo Larrazabal is breathing down Levy's neck, having also gone round without dropping a shot.

There was not a solitary bogey from Larrazabal as he finished tied for 11th at the Shenzhen International and the Spaniard is just one shot back from Levy following an opening 64.

Peter Hanson, James Morrison, Raphael Jacquelin, George Coetzee and Dean Burmester are four shots adrift of Levy in a share of third spot.

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