News - Levy leads first day at Valderrama

Valderrama Hoyo 17 © Golffoto.es
Valderrama Hoyo 17 © Golffoto.es

 

Levy leads the way at Valderrama

 

by European Tour

Tournament: Real Club Valderrama
Open de España,
Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation
Venue: Real Club Valderrama 
Prize fund: €2million
Hashtag: #opendeespana

France's Alexander Levy holds a one shot lead after the opening round of the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation after an impressive five under par round of 66 on a day of typically tough scoring in Andalucía.

Alexander Levy felt he shot his best round of the year as a brilliant 66 handed him the first round lead at the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.Valderrama lived up to its fearsome reputation on Thursday with scores in the 60s at a high premium despite the favourable conditions, as Levy's five under par 66 was enough to give him a one-shot lead over defending champion James Morrison, Alejandro Cañizares, Andrew Johnston and Stuart Manley.

The Frenchman had a slow start to the season with three missed cuts but has not looked back since the Desert Swing, and secured a second-place finish at the ISPS HANDA Perth International thanks to a closing 66.

Having repeated that score on one of the toughest courses on The European Tour, the 25 year old was delighted with his performance as he looks to add to his two wins claimed in the 2014 season.

"It is a very tough golf course, in fantastic condition and I played really well today," he said. "I putted well and did everything well. I got a bit lucky two or three times, but it was a good 66. It is nice to shoot it on a course like Valderrama which is special.

"I like it when it is a tough course because it is not a putting contest. You need to play well tee to green and that's the way I like to play.

Today was my best round since last year. That is good for me and I stayed positive during the day. I'm really happy with how I played - Alexander Levy

Levy opened with a birdie on the tenth and added to it on the 12th before dropping a shot on the 13th. In a topsy-turvy first nine, he then made further gains on the 14th, 15th and 17th before making a second bogey of the day on the 18th.


Birdies followed on the first and second to get Levy to five under and none of the field could catch him as he parred his way home.

Englishman Johnston made back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth and added to those gains on the 11th and 17th as he fired the only bogey-free round of the day.

Manley, a five-time Qualifying School graduate, had set the target around an hour earlier thanks to a brilliant second nine of 31.He started on the tenth and was level par after his first nine but then went on a sensational run, picking up shots on the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth before a bogey on the eighth dropped the Welshman out of the lead.

Morrison made a birdie-bogey start before picking up a shot on the fifth to turn in 34. Further gains followed on the tenth and 14th before a brilliant bunker shot handed him a fifth birdie of the day on the penultimate hole.A birdie-birdie finish catapulted Cañizares up the leaderboard with further gains on the first, ninth and 11th going with a dropped shot on the sixth.

Another home favourite, Pablo Larrazábal, was then at three under, a shot clear of countryman Jordi Garcia Pinto, German Martin Kaymer, Swede Joakim Lagergren and Scot Richie Ramsay.

Grégory Bourdy, Rhys Davies, Ross Fisher, Maximilian Kieffer and Joost Luiten then completed the group of just 15 players to score under par, with tournament host Sergio Garcia recording a 74.Only 15 players finished under par at Real Club Valderrama, led by two-time European Tour winner Levy, who mixed five birdies with two bogeys on his front nine after starting on the tenth tee, then birdied his first two holes after the turn, as he returned his 'best round since last year'.

Levy has a single stroke advantage from Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares, Englishman Andrew Johnston, Welshman Stuart Manley and defending champion James Morrison, all of whom carded rounds of 67, with Cañizares closing his round with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal is a further shot back after an opening 68, while his compatriot Jordi Garcia Pinto, Swede Joakim Lagergren, Scotland's Richie Ramsay and two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer a three shots off the pace on two under par.Tournament host Sergio Garcia, who won the Andalucía Masters at Real Club Valderrrama in 2011, posted three birdies and six bogeys as he opened with a three over par round of 74.

Key player quotes

Alex Levy: "It is a very tough golf course, in fantastic condition and I played really well today. I putted well and did everything well. I got a bit lucky two or three times, but it was a good 66. It is nice to shoot it on a course like Valderrama which is special.I like it when it is a tough course because it is not a putting contest. You need to play well tee to green and that's the way I like to play.Today was my best round since last year. That is good for me and I stayed positive during the day. I'm really happy with how I played".

Stuart Manley: "Anytime you beat par on this course is pretty good - I'd have taken 71 at the start. These sort of courses I tend to do quite well around. My distance control is quite good normally, I'm pretty straight off the tee, and I keep the ball in play. It reminds me of a Tour School course at PGA Catalunya, and I usually do quite well there".

Andrew Johnston: "I was very disciplined and I putted very well today. I hit a lot of three irons off the tee to hit the fairway then hit a lot of wedges trying to hit the greens and not be greedy. I tried not to be too aggressive.  In the practice round I realised you just have to hit greens here and not make mistakes. I know the reputation of this course, sometimes you accept you are going to be 15 or 20 feet away". 

James Morrison: "I played here in 2010 and 2011 and I wasn't mentally prepared for this course. I was two years on Tour and I was an angry man. I'm now mentally better to play this course and embrace it and play it for what it is. Coming here now, I feel like I am ready to play here and I look forward to playing it. Before I wanted to get home quickly. It is a beautiful place and it almost feels like the European Augusta. It's the nearest I've got to playing Augusta so far anyway".

Alejandro Cañizares: "It was a great day. Not much wind and the course is in perfect shape and I played some very good golf. I didn't make many mistakes and rolled some putts in so I'm happy. You've got to place the ball off the tee and make some birdie putts which aren't easy. The greens are firm, so I'm happy to finish with two birdies in the last two and I'm very proud of my round".

 

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