Tom Lewis: History in the Making
Even as an amateur, Tom Lewis had that something special about his game.
Touring Australia last year for the first time, Lewis finished runner-up to tour journeyman Peter O’Malley after a three hole playoff at the NSW Open in November. Lewis then secured the Amateur Medal at the Australian Open the following week.
Tom Lewis (Credit: Anthony Powter)
“My aim is to play the European Tour,” said Lewis after the Australian Open.
The signs were there that the 20-year-old was destined for greater things.
Less than twelve months on at the Portugal Masters, Lewis confirmed his standing as one of the hottest young guns in golf with a two-shot victory on the European Tour to create golfing history.
In just his third event as a professional Lewis fired a stellar final round 65 for a 21-under-par total and in the process graduated onto the European Tour with a two year exemption and by-passed Qualifying School.
It was more the speed in which Lewis claimed his maiden professional tour that has our heads turning, that and his precision like swing and deathly short game.
“I wouldn’t have expected that at all,” said Lewis about winning so quickly on tour.
“I was dreading Qualifying School at the end of the year but it looks like I’ve skipped that. I’m just really pleased with my performance. This has always been my dream and to achieve this so quickly is pleasing. I’ve a long way to go, but it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Tiger Woods needed five tournaments to secure his first. Fellow Welwyn native Sir Nick Faldo, still the most famous product of the area where Lewis hails from in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, required 28. Both have twenty Majors between them, Woods fourteen and Faldo six. What then might become of Lewis?
Lewis’ victory in Portugal from just three starts as a professional makes you wonder how far this immense talent will go in the game.
At 20, age is on his side. Lewis is fit, motivated and wants to be amongst the increasing number of young guns such as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler who are winning on tour. Lewis rightfully is now amongst their ranks.
Back in July Lewis made headlines at The Open Championship when his opening 65, the lowest score by an amateur, gave him a share of the Championship lead. Since Lewis has sent a stern message that his election to turn professional immediately after the Walker Cup in August was the right decision.
“That was the plan to go pro after the Walker Cup and try and get starts on Tour with sponsor’s invites,” says Lewis, who was instrumental in the Great Britain and Ireland’s win over the more fancied USA team.
“In Portugal, I was not thinking about the money – I was thinking about winning and getting my card.”
Victory gave Lewis a cheque for 416,660 euros ($A562,000) and a place in the record books as one of the youngest to secure a European Tour victory from the least number of starts.
Lewis’ victory at the Portugal Masters could be counted among the most stirring statements of intent in European Tour history.
The combination of audacity and jaw-dropping talent that Lewis displays has caught the eyes of even the more seasoned journeyman on Tour. Media commentators are also having a field day.
Lewis’s triumph was that rare blend in sport. A performance of impeccable poise, justifying to the last degree all the faith and fortune invested in him throughout a amateur career that included winning the prized St Andrews Links Trophy in June and the 2009 British and English Boys amateur championships. The potential is frightening.
“First I need to get my confidence up,” Lewis says, not avoiding any talk of major championship ambitions.
“I’m not looking to win majors straight away, but if I have a good week and it’s on the right course, then there’s no reason why not.”
Arguably Lewis’s biggest supporter has and continues to be his mother, Lynda who travelled Australian and the USA this season in the main amateur events supporting her son whilst Lewis’ father, Bryan, kept the home fires burning.
Responsible for her Son’s dress code and impeccable manners, the investment is sure to return benefits, not only monetary but more importantly in the sheer pride of her son’s achievements and standing he’s already achieved in such a short time frame.
Lewis stands to earn up to £1 million from sponsorship bonuses thanks to his first win in Europe. Refreshingly, though, he insists that his first use of the money will to help pay off the debt incurred by his parents in supporting his chosen vocation.
Amongst all the hype and interests, which is now in the hands of the IMG marketing powerhouse, Lewis remains composed and more interested in his golf than making money.
“I have never really been phased by it,” he says.
“I was just interested in getting my card, and that’s what I’ve done. If I play well the money will take care of itself.”