THE 2011 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP AT ROYAL ST GEORGE’S
• US Open champion fails to get off to a flying start and is upstaged by English amateur Lewis
• 20-year-old shares the first round lead with Danish veteran Bjorn
BRITISH amateur Tom Lewis stole Rory McIlroy’s thunder on the opening day of The Open by grabbing a share of the lead following a stunning first round 65.
Newly crowned US Open champion McIlroy had been the centre of attention heading into golf’s flagship tournament, but by the end of a thrilling first day all the talk was of a 20-year-old from Welwyn Garden.
Lewis made the most of benign conditions late in the day and celebrated his Open debut by shooting a five-under 65, the lowest ever round by an amateur at this event, that included a dazzling run of four straight birdies from the 14th.
The Englishman ended the day tied with Danish veteran Thomas Bjorn and one shot ahead of former US Open champion Lucas Glover and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Lewis grew up learning the game at the same golf club in Welwyn Garden City as Nick Faldo and before the tournament proclaimed it was his ambition to win more Majors than the former Ryder Cup captain.
The youngster played his opening round alongside five-time champion, and the man he was named after Tom Watson, and Lewis revealed the American, 41 years his senior, was a most beneficial presence.
He said: “It was excellent playing with Tom today. I couldn’t have asked for a better draw. To play with Tom was just a great experience and to shoot a great score in front of Tom was a great experience as well, so I couldn’t have asked for more.
“I introduced myself to Tom on Tuesday because I think I would have been more nervous than I already was if I’d done it on the tee.”
A clearly impressed Watson added: “He’s quite a refined player at the age of 20 – he could be my grandson. He hit the ball straight, he hit the ball where he was looking and played some fine shots. I remember those aggressive putting strokes when I was 20.”