10 May 2024

Alex Levy Exclusive Q&A – On The Comeback Trail

Since coming through DP World Tour Qualifying School twelve years ago, Alex Levy had managed to retain his full playing privileges for 11 straight years, but that all changed at the backend of 2023.

During those 11 years, the Frenchman won five times on the DP World Tour, before things took a turn for the worse in 2022, with Levy suffering from a lower back issue, which kept him away from action for almost ten months. 

He would make a comeback at last year’s Abu Dhabi Championship, but the 33-year-old failed to replicate the success that had once seen him reach a career-high 46th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and went on to finish outside the top 116 on the Race to Dubai Rankings.

Despite the disappointment of losing his full DP World Tour card for the first time since 2013, Levy has a spring in his step and insists he’s feeling better than ever as he targets an immediate return to the top level through the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca Rankings.

Worldwide Golf caught up with the likeable Levy at last month’s Abu Dhabi Challenge where he finished second. The Frenchman gave us an insight into his return from injury, why he would do it differently if he could go back in time and his goal of following in Matthieu Pavon’s footsteps by winning on the PGA Tour.

WWG: You were sidelined for ten months with an injury before making your comeback in Abu Dhabi last season. How are you feeling now?

Alex Levy: I’m really good and I’m playing really well. I think when I came back from the injury last season, I didn’t take it too seriously in the sense that I hadn’t played for ten months. I didn’t take the time to accept that maybe my game would take some time to come back, but I see the difference now, a year and a half on. I had to change my swing a bit, all these things need time, and I don’t think I accepted that. I’m really happy with how I’m playing now and I’m enjoying the game a lot more.

WWG: How difficult was it for you mentally to spend so much time away from the game?

AL: It was tough, you miss the game a lot. I watched a load of golf on TV and you say to yourself that you want to be there. What is also tough is making your comeback and having all these expectations, which was one of my biggest mistakes. You miss the game so much that you try so hard to get back into the swing of things immediately. During those ten months, I realised how much I love the game. I’m lucky that I’m now able to compete again at 100%, so that’s a big thing for me.

Levy’s most recent DP World Tour win was the 2018 Trophée Hassan II

WWG: You’ve spoken about making mistakes by rushing back. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently? 

AL: I would do the total opposite to what I did! I don’t think I would have played as much and tried to enjoy the game a bit more. I was trying too hard to play well, when I should have been having fun out there.

WWG: You were obviously battling to keep your DP World Tour playing privileges last season – were you feeling a lot of pressure to retain your card?

AL: To be honest, I didn’t feel that much pressure. Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t. Over the last few years, I’ve learnt so much about myself as a person, so I didn’t have any regrets. I think you learn a lot about yourself during difficult times compared to when you’re at the top of your game and winning. When you’re winning, you know you’re capable of getting the job done, but when you’re not playing as well as before and need to compete, you learn the most.

WWG: It wasn’t to be at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, where you had to make the cut to be in with a chance of keeping your DP World Tour card. You nearly made a hole in one on 17 and then lipped out on 18, which saw you finish two strokes outside the cut. What’s going through your head as you walk off the 18th green?

AL: I gave everything I had that day and came so close to making the weekend. I took it as a positive because I knew my game was coming back and one day it was going to go my way. It was a tough day because it’s not common to lip out on two consecutive holes, but I didn’t take it personally. 

WWG: What did you work on over the off-season to try and get your game back to what it was before the injury?

AL: What I’ve realised the most is how important your mindset is. During my career, I’ve been really lucky because things have happened really quickly for me – I kept my card in 2013, the year after I won twice and after that I almost won every year until 2018. All these things happened in a short space of time, so you don’t really think too much about the other stuff. These last few years when I’ve been struggling, as I said before, I’ve learnt so much about myself and how important the mindset is out on the course.

WWG: How does your mindset differ now to two years ago?

AL: Now I just accept that some days I’m going to miss a shot. I don’t care about missing anymore as it’s part of my job. Sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect, but perfection doesn’t exist. I just accept missing shots, that comes with being a golfer.

WWG: You’ve played predominately on the Challenge Tour this year. How are you finding the level on that Tour compared to the DP World Tour?

AL: Challenge Tour is bigger year after year. From last year’s Challenge Tour graduates, two of them have already won on the DP World Tour after just five months, which is great publicity for the Tour. There are some really good players out here, I’m happy to be competing against these youngsters to try and get full DP World Tour playing privileges once again. 

Levy finished 2nd at the recent Abu Dhabi Challenge, and T-9 at the UAE Challenge

WWG: You still have status on the DP World Tour. Do you know how many events you’ll be playing on there this season?

AL: I’m in a nice position on both the Road to Mallorca and the Race to Dubai. I have two ways to try and get back to the DP World Tour full time, and I’ll focus solely on one route later in the season. I don’t care if I play on either Tour this year, my main goal is to just get my DP World Tour card back. I played at the China Open this month as I’m a past champion, but I don’t have the ego to say, ‘I have to play on the DP World Tour’, I will just play wherever I feel the most comfortable. If I have to play some Challenge Tour events then so be it, if I have the chance to play DP World Tour tournaments, I will play there as well. I want to play golf, have fun and hit good shots.

WWG: Do you still believe you have the game to win on the DP World Tour after six years away from the winner’s circle?

AL: For sure. I feel more confident now that I can get the job done than I did before. From what I’ve learned over the last few years, I think I can win. But it’s not just about winning on the DP World Tour, I want to aim higher than that and go the U.S. and play on the PGA Tour. 

WWG: Your compatriot Matthieu Pavon has certainly enjoyed his time in the States this year. What do you make of his recent success? 

AL: It’s so good, I’m so pleased for him. He worked so hard and showed us that anything is possible. It’s good to have someone on top that you can try and chase – in the past it was Victor Dubuisson and now it’s Matthieu.

WWG: What do you make of the current fractures in the game – do you want to see everyone come back together with the world’s best players competing against one another again more often?

AL: I think it’s good that people want to invest money in golf, but it’s sad that the game is now divided. I understand people who invest want to do their own thing, but having the world’s best players separated is not a good thing. I hope they find a solution to work together, I think the game will be really strong if that happens. 

WWG: Investment is great, but do you think we’ve got to a point now where there’s too much money in the game? For example, Jon Rahm signing for LIV Golf for a report $500m. Has the game lost its way?

AL: I’m nobody to say that’s too much. If they gave him that kind of money, it’s maybe because that’s his value and he deserves it – I understand him accepting it. It’s tough to judge and look at it from your point of view, as you are not in his situation. If I was him, I don’t know how I would react. My concern is, it’s just a shame that the world’s best players don’t play together. γ

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