Alexander Levy grew up about 8,000 miles from China, but he certainly has taken to the place.
The Frenchman, who won the China Open last April, fired a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead on the first day of competition at the BMW Masters on Thursday.
“I think this country likes me,” Levy said with a laugh after his first round. “This golf course is pretty much the same as the one where I won in Shenzhen.”
Levey started on the back nine and recorded four straight birdies, hitting the turn with a 31. Levy entered the tournament ranked 19th in the Race to Dubai points standings.
He has a one-stroke lead over three players: Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, and fellow Frenchman Romain Wattel.
Colsaerts (59th) and Grillo (58th) were two of the last three men to qualify for the Final Series, but are off to fast starts with their extra session.
Two strokes back is Graeme McDowell, followed by six players at 4-under, including Thomas Bjorn, currently 5th in the points, and Jamie Donaldson, who sits fourth.
Two of China’s wild cards in the field, Hao-tong Li and Mu Hu, are both part of a seven-way tie for 12th at 3-under.