Jul
14
2011
Tom Watson Namesake Making a Name for Himself
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

It's amateur hour at the Open!

20-year-old Tom Lewis fired a five-under 65, the lowest score in Open history by an amateur, to take a share of the first-round lead with Thomas Bjorn. The native of Welwyn, England, is named after Tom Watson, whom he was paired with today.

When Lewis teed off, outside of his family and friends, there were probably a handful of people rooting for him at Royal St. George’s. By the end of the day, he’s become a household name to golf fans around the world.

“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,” cracked Lewis. “So I was really grateful and I had a great time out there.”

What an amazing story — to play with the legend you’re named after in your first Open Championship and shoot 65 in front of him?! Oh, naturally, Tom has a brother called Jack.

“I think on the first tee, to play with Tom, no matter what I shot, was going to be excellent,” said Lewis in his post-round presser. “I was more not wanting to embarrass myself in front of him. To shoot 65 in front of Tom was just excellent, and he was just a great man to play with today.”

Most of us would have asked starter Ivor Robson if he had a sick bag.

Lewis plays links golf year round and reckons he has an advantage over the field in that regard. He’s only competed on one course this year that was not a links-style course.

“I was just more nervous about making sure I hit the first tee shot and not messing up early,” said Lewis who won the Boys Amateur Championship at RSG in ’09. “I hit a good shot into 3, and I think that settled the nerves. I made some great up-and-downs, and having about eight putts through eight holes, I think you couldn’t have asked for better.

“I felt comfortable after that. Obviously making birdies from 14 to 17 was even better, and that’s when I started to realise that I was at the top of the leaderboard.”

Pretty cool, huh?

Watson, 61, who acknowledged Lewis could be his grandson, said, “I just had to smile inside to watch him play.”

(AP Photo/Jon Super)