Twenty-year-old amateur Tom Lewis makes history during the opening round of the 2011 Open Championship by shooting a 5-under 65, the lowest round by an amateur ever recorded in Open Championship history.
Lewis was named by his father, Brian, who is a former European Tour Professional, after 8-time major championships winner Tom (Toooooooooooome) Watson, his golf idol. The powers that be saw fit to pair the 20-year-old with his namesake in what turned out to be the best round ever at the Open Championship, by an amateur.
“When the draw came out on Monday I think Dad was more excited and more nervous than I was,” Lewis said of being paired with Watson. “He was always my father’s favorite golfer.”
Born January 5th, 1991, Tom Lewis lives in Welwyn Garden City, same hometown as three-time Open Champion, Sir Nick Faldo. He qualified for the 2011 Open Championship with a stellar 63-65 and has continued that momentum through the first round of one of golf’s major events.
Tom Lewis caught fire on the 14th hole of the event, nailing four birdies in a row, finishing the 18th with a par. A chip and a putt later and Lewis had a par to follow four birdies in a row from the 14th. It was, dare I say, a Tiger-esque charge and a display of brilliant golf.
“He’s quite a refined player at age 20,” Watson said. “I just had to smile inside to watch him play. I didn’t play particularly well myself, but I certainly was impressed by the way he played.”
The journey to the 2011 Open Championship was a lengthy one. Tom Lewis, diagnosed with dyslexia quit school at 16 and devoted his life to the singular purpose of improving his golf game. It’s a risky gambit, but his game has progressed so much after the four years since leaving school that a professional career in golf is likely the only he’ll ever have.
When the last card was turned in, the results were that young Tom Lewis shared the leaderboard with Thomas Bjorn, who didn’t make it in to the event until VJ Singh withdrew on Monday. The last time an amateur shared the #1 spot during the Open Championship was in 1968, at Carnoustie, when Brian Barnes and the then amateur Michael Bonallack finished tied the first round with a 70.
“We did not speak much but he helped me out at times,” Lewis said. “It was thrilling to be in his presence today. You could not play with a more generous man. He said some nice things in the recorders hut.
“All I wanted was to get the first tee shot away. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of Tom Watson. To shoot a 65 in front of him is amazing.”
When asked how he felt about the days events, Lewis said “It is only one day, I’m going to have to do three more of these to really impress. There are going to be tough moments ahead. To hold off the top players is going to be even tougher.”
What do you think, will young Tom Lewis remain a contender in the 2011 Open Championship or will he go the path we’ve seen so many young stars take and fizzle out during the 2nd round?