France’s Alexander Levy hopes to follow friend Victor Dubuisson into The European Tour winner’s circle after a course record 62 put him in command of the 20th Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club.
Dubuisson enjoyed a breakthrough win at November’s Turkish Airlines Open, shortly after fellow French players Julien Quesne and Gregory Bourdy had added to their trophy hauls, before going on to finish runner-up at the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
And 23 year old Levy, whose previous best on The European Tour is a third place finish at last year’s BMW International Open, now hopes to replicate his compatriot’s achievements after reaching the halfway stage 14 under par.
“I think the French players are all very close and Victor’s performances over the last few months is helping all the French players and inspiring them to try to do the same,” said Levy.
“I am friends with Victor. It is mainly through golf that we have a relationship but we are friends.
“What he has done over the past few months has been amazing and it has really had an effect on all the French players so hopefully I can try to emulate that.”
Levy started the day with the par five ninth to play from his opening round after bad light curtailed Thursday’s play; but could only manage a par to remain a shot behind first round leaders Simon Dyson and Alvaro Quiros.
However, after a swift turnaround the birdies soon started flowing as Levy picked up four gains and an eagle from 25 feet at the long ninth to turn in 30.
Further birdies followed at the tenth, 12th, 14th and 17th for a ten under par 62, leaving the World Number 282 four shots clear of Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, with Alvaro Quiros one stroke further back.
“It is a great round for me,” Levy added. “I played unbelievably today and it’s the first time I have played like that. I really like the course and it is in great shape.
“I played really well and made a lot of putts to make the lowest score of my career. I shot 63 at Kingsbarns during the Dunhill Links in Scotland last year but this course is a lot tougher and I am only starting to realise how good that score is.
“I played the right strategy today and I just have to try to do that over the next couple of days. I hope that I can play with Raph tomorrow because he is a great friend and it would be funny if we could play in the last group together tomorrow.
“I just tried to play one shot at a time. I didn’t realise how good the score was to be honest because I was focussed on playing shot by shot.
“I am very happy to be here - this is my first time in China and I feel great to be playing so well in what is a really big event for me.”
Big-hitting Quiros enjoyed an eventful second round with an eagle at the 17th, six birdies and four bogeys, while Challenge Tour graduate Otaegui had seven gains against a solitary dropped shot.
France’s Raphaël Jacquelin had six birdies against a single bogey in his round of 67 to sit fourth on eight under par.
“I played a bit better today compared to how I was hitting the ball yesterday, so I feel pretty good,” said Jacquelin. “Still a few bad shots, but overall, five under, I’ll take it, definitely.”
Defending champion Brett Rumford had birdied his opening hole to move into a share of the lead, but five bogeys dropped him back into the pack on one under, alongside Ian Poulter.
The Ryder Cup star was moving into contention when he followed a 55 foot eagle at the ninth with a birdie at the 11th to reach six under, but a three-putt double bogey at the short 12th and a triple bogey eight at the next followed.
Having driven a long way right into trees, Poulter had to take relief on a cart path before he could take a drop away from it. While he was entitled to two club lengths for the initial drop onto the path, the Englishman mistakenly took two lengths again for his free drop away from the path when only one was permitted, thus incurring a further penalty shot before taking two shots to find the green and two putts before signing for a 74.
World Number Three Henrik Stenson safely made it through to the weekend on three under, while US PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner scraped through on the mark at level par.