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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Lurking Levy and warming Wu set to creep up on leading duo

Wallace looks vulnerable at top of board

Alexander Levy won the Hassan Trophy last Sunday
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 5.30am Sunday

Story so far
The China Open is a hugely competitive affair with 18 holes to play – 24 players are within four shots of the lead – and bookmakers are struggling to identify a favourite.

Adrian Otaegui is a best-price 9-2, with his fellow co-leader, Matt Wallace, available at 5-1. Otaegui's lone European Tour success is last year's Paul Lawrie Match Play, while Wallace has two low-grade victories under his belt – the 2017 Portugal Open and the 2018 Indian Open.

Ante-post 11-1 favourite, Alexander Levy, is only three shots off the pace. Haotong Li, China's No. 1 and second in the pre-tournament betting, is in 49th place, eight shots adrift.

-12 Adrian Otaegui, Matt Wallace
-11 Alexander Bjork, Julien Guerrier, Jorge Campillo
-10 Jinho Choi, Andrea Pavan, Paul Dunne, Jeunghun Wang, Sihwan Kim, Nacho Elvira
-9 Alexander Levy, Clement Sordet, Ashun Wu, Matteo Manassero, Nino Bertasio, Soomin Lee, Jason Scrivener
-8 Micah Lauren Shin, Mikko Ilonen, Scott Vincent, Ashley Chesters, Jordan Smith, Jason Norris

Best prices
9-2 A Otaegui, 5 M Wallace, 8 A Bjork, 11 P Dunne, 14 J Campillo, A Levy, 16 J Guerrier, J Wang, 18 N Elvira, 22 S Kim, 28 A Pavan, 33 J Choi, 50 A Wu, 55 J Scrivener, S Lee, 66 N Bertasio, 70 bar

Final-round advice
Matt Wallace was ludicrously charged for a third round of a tournament, scowling and fist-pumping throughout, boiling over in the closing stages as he lost his swing.

The hothead glared aggressively at locals for taking a picture of him after a poor shot on the 16th tee – he would not have batted an eyelid had his ball found the green – and the lugubrious Londoner was fortunate to be close to the clubhouse with his game and temperament creaking.

Wallace scrambled a par at the 16th, but loose drives at the 17th and 18th meant a disappointing bogey, par finish, and he seems likely to burst a bloodvessel if he steps up his intensity levels for Sunday. Calmer operators are preferred for the final round.

Wallace has been working on swing changes in recent weeks – and he shanked a hybrid on his way to missing the cut in the Spanish Open a fortnight ago – so he is difficult to trust for the China denouement. He has a good winning record at this time of the year, starting on the Alps Tour, but makes no appeal at 5-1.

Adrian Otaegui has been in tidy form all season and is a better bet, but the Spaniard is yet to win a strokeplay event on the European Tour. There are three maidens tied for third place – Alexander Bjork, Julien Guerrier and Jorge Campillo – so the scope for someone charging from just off the pace to triumph is huge.

Nacho Elvira is extremely tempting at 18-1. There was no disgrace in losing a duel with the great Jon Rahm in the Spanish Open, and Elvira won his first Challenge Tour title in China. He hit a magnificent approach to the 18th to sign off for round three and could land an overdue European Tour breakthrough on a course which suits.

Proven champions Jeunghun Wang and Paul Dunne must also be respected on the same score as Elvira, just two shots behind, but the pick of the outright prices is Ashun Wu, who continues to be underrated in the market. The ante-post 100-1 was too dismissive of a man who already has this title to his name and 2015 champion Wu is still available at 50-1.

Wu is only three shots behind, having played his final eight holes of round three in four under par. The 32-year-old proved his national Open success was no fluke by winning the Lyoness Open in 2016, and he could feed off the crowd support to complete a hat-trick of European Tour titles, having found his A-game in round three.

Ante-post 11-1 Racing Post Sport selection, Alexander Levy, still has an excellent chance of a successful title defence. Levy, like Wu, hit top gear in round three to move into contention. Levy started hitting his ball with immense authority over the closing stages of round two and carried that form to Saturday.

A third-round 65 has put Levy well in the hunt on a track he loves. Punters yet to get involved should be eyeing up an investment on the buzzing Frenchman, while a press-up at 14-1 for those already aboard is a perfectly sensible tactic. Wu and Levy are both on offer at generous odds.

It would come as no surprise to see the man who held his nerve so impressively to win the Hassan Trophy last Sunday register back-to-back triumphs, perhaps with Wu taking the runner-up honours.

Outright recommendations
A Levy
1pt each-way 14-1 general

A Wu
1pt each-way 50-1 BetBright

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Levy started hitting his ball with immense authority over the closing stages of round two and carried that form to Saturday
E.W. Terms
Sky bet