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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

An ace for Alexander Levy, but greater prize awaits at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Frenchman fires a hole-in-one on the 4th and will begin final round on Sunday three shots off the lead

Alexander Levy of France eyes the ball during day three of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Karim Sahib / AFP
Alexander Levy of France eyes the ball during day three of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Karim Sahib / AFP

At this year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a hole-in-one on the par-3 7th carries with it a brand new watch from the tournament’s title sponsor.

Matthew Southgate can attest to that, since on Friday the Englishman registered the first ace of his professional career there. For the feat, he was awarded a timepiece from the Swiss manufacturers.

It was a shame, however slight, that on Saturday Alexander Levy’s single arrived a few holes earlier at Emirates Golf Club. On the 4th, that runs adjacent to 7, the Frenchman floated a “little 9-iron” from the elevated tee down onto the putting surface. It took a big hop, rolled out a few feet and was swallowed by the cup.

Levy celebrated, as well he should. Then it hit him.

“Feels nice, but I look around and no prize, so I was a little bit upset,” he joked afterwards.

The remainder of his round could help bring an even greater reward come tournament end. After his hole-in-one, Levy made five consecutive birdies around the turn - he nearly eagled 13 - to jump to the top of the leaderboard.

Then he gave two shots back at 15 and 16. Yet a birdie on the 18th secured a 65 and lifted Levy back to 17-under par, meaning he sits tied-third after 54 holes, alongside South Africa's Haydn Porteous. China’s Li Haotong heads the field and is three shots better off, with two-time champion Rory McIlroy sandwiched in between. Clearly, though, Levy is on form.

“I promise you, the last few days I play some good golf,” he said. “I just enjoy golf and try to hit the perfect shots. I got a good stretch from 9 to 14. And from there, I start to think, ‘I'm leading the tournament’, so I put a little bit more pressure on my shoulders, and I missed three short putts in a row. But I bounced back on 18 with a great birdie.

“It was good to finish the day well and to sleep with a birdie in my mind.”

When he wakes up, Levy will be chasing a fifth European Tour victory and a first since the Volvo China Open last April. He was close in Germany in July, but finished second, although he has already tasted success this month by contributing to Team Europe’s win at the EurAsia Cup.

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Omega Dubai Desert Classic:

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On Saturday, as he leapt into the lead, Levy got distracted looking at leaderboards. Yet it could serve him well on Sunday.

“I just started to think about what can happen and I don't enjoy the moment,” he said. “A lot of crowd out there. It was tough because it was noisy and so I lost a little bit of concentration. It was not easy, but I will learn from that and I will try my best tomorrow.”

Of the Sunday test, Levy said: "It will be a little bit more windy, I think. Just the challenge. It's all the years and all my career, and tomorrow I will play 18 holes and the pressure will be nice.

“We practice for this moment. And tomorrow I'll just try to get the best score.”