On a course that derives its name from Norse mythology, Alexander Levy conjured up a fairy tale of his own at the US PGA Championship, en route an impressive two under par opening round on his Major debut.
Not bad going for a man who started the year outside the top 200 in the World, but the man born in California is clearly revelling in his new found status within the game, which was duly elevated after a maiden European Tour victory earlier in the year.
In only his second season on The Race to Dubai, Levy arrived at the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen this April no doubt looking to solidify his position on the Tour with a good performance. He would do much more than that though, eventually finishing four strokes clear of Tommy Fleetwood, who himself only makes his second Major Championship appearance this week.
Levy’s victory would prove a watershed moment in his fledgling career, and having had time to get to grips with life as a European Tour winner, he has since gone on to make his first World Golf Championship appearance. That came last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he eventually finished in a tie for 58th at Firestone Country Club, and he no doubt came to Louisville in high spirits as a result.
Three birdies in a row from the tenth to start his round on Thursday would do nothing to abate the Frenchman’s enthusiasm for Major golf, and while a closing bogey would leave a slightly sour taste, he was understandably pleased with his opening salvo and his tie for 20th place.
“It was amazing,” exclaimed the 24 year old, fresh off his birthday last week. “It is my first time at a Major and I played really well today. I drove it well and hit plenty of good iron shots. I putted well too, although I was a little lucky with some of them, but overall I am very happy.
“I bogeyed the last, but that’s OK. I just need to realise that I was three under on this golf course until my putt lipped out. I just wanted to stay aggressive out there, and today I did that very well, so I’m very happy.
“Last week was a great experience, my first event in America, and while it wasn’t a Major, it was a very good golf course. I learned a lot and was happy to have been invited to Akron, and now I will try and use what I learned last week, and I am happy today, because I have done what I wanted to do.”
Amateur golfers the world over are told to play with better players to encourage their development, and that is just as true in professional golf, which meant that every day was a school day for Levy last week in Ohio while playing with some of the best players in the world.
“Last week I just learned to keep playing my own game, and not to try to play safe just because it is a tough course,” said the man who now makes his home in Bandol, France. “I learned to just keep playing the good golf I know I can play, and to try and make birdies, because if you aim for pars, quite often you make bogeys instead.
“I tried to do this on every hole, which sometimes lead to bogeys, but mostly saw me make some good birdies. I had plenty of chances today as well, which was good.
“It has been amazing for me to play these past two weeks, and my life has changed so much in the last six months. If you had told me back then that I would be here now I would have said you were lying, but now I’m here I have enjoyed every moment, and every shot, and that’s a good thing.
“It was nice to play with some great players last week, which has given me some great experience, as I can see what happens with the big names and what they do on the course. So now it is easy for me to see what I need to do to win a Major, or win a big tournament, or to become world number one, and that’s good!”