Belfast Telegraph

Friday 9 October 2015

Amateur hour at Open as England's Tom Lewis becomes shock co-leader

Published 15/07/2011

England's Tom Lewis, the shock co-leader after the first round of the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's, simply wants to be the best player ever from his golf club.

But as that is the same Welwyn Garden City club which launched the career of six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo, that promises to be a daunting task.

Having joined Thomas Bjorn at the top of the leaderboard with a brilliant five-under-par 65 compiled alongside the man he was named after - five-time Open champion Tom Watson - Lewis was asked to name his sporting heroes.

"You can name dozens," said the 20-year-old, who shot rounds of 63 and 65 to win the qualifying competition at Rye by three shots and won the British Boys title at Royal St George's in 2009.

"Rory (McIlroy) at the moment is top of the news, and to look up to him as one of the best players in the world is great.

"Then you've got to respect Tiger Woods for what he's done in the game. You've got to look at Tom Watson for what he's done.

"And people outside of golf, David Beckham, what he's done for football and for England. He was one of my heroes as a football player. I could name loads, but I'd be here all night.

"David always used to wear (number) seven and I loved the way he played football, and I just loved to replicate it. So that's probably why. And he's got cool hair.

"Nick Faldo has won six Majors. I would love to win seven because I'm from the same golf club as him and it would be great to go down as the best player from the club, but I've got a long way to go."

Lewis' father Brian was a European Tour professional for a few years and named his sons after Watson and Jack Nicklaus.

But he was apparently not among the large group of supporters who turned out to watch Lewis shoot the lowest score by an amateur in Open history and the first amateur to lead the Open since Michael Bonallack at Carnoustie in 1968.

"If I told you everyone that was here I would be in for a long night," Lewis added.

"I reckon there's about 30 people scattered around the room somewhere. My dad was probably too nervous to come today, so he's probably watching me on TV.

"I don't think (he'll be here tomorrow). I think he's even more nervous now."

Lewis carded birdies at the third, seventh and eighth to be out in 32, and bounced back from bogeys at the 11th and 13th with four straight birdies from the 14th.

"I played well today, got a lot of cheers for 'Tom', but I think at first it was for Tom Watson, and then towards the end I was playing well so I think they were cheering for me as well," he added.

"I was really grateful and I had a great time out there.

"To play with Tom, no matter what I shot, was going to be excellent. I was more not wanting to embarrass myself in front of him.

"I was just happy to get the drive off the tee on the first, and that was all that mattered."

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