Lewis the new boy-wonder eclipses McIlroy

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The Independent Online

There is a boy-wonder atop the Open leaderboard, but not the boy-wonder everybody – or indeed, anybody – expected. Tom Lewis eclipsed Rory McIlroy and all but Thomas Bjorn in his debut major by shooting the lowest score by an amateur in the 151-year history of the Championship.

The 20-year-old hails from Welwyn Garden City, the same town as Sir Nick Faldo. And England's greatest himself would have been proud of this 65. Playing with the 61-year-old Tom Watson, Lewis dared to restate what is and isn't possible from a player from the unpaid ranks.

What an opening day this was. It began with Bjorn producing a highly emotional performance on the links which so cruelly denied him eight years ago and finished with a boy half the Dane's age stealing the headlines.

Not since Sir Michael Bonallack led the professionals at Carnoustie in 1968 has an amateur led the Open.

"He could be my grandson," said Watson looking on with disbelief in his eyes. Lewis was named after Watson and very rarely has anyone taken the majesty as well as the name.

It had been a raw day on the links, both in the weather and the emotion. It was certainly all too much for Bjorn. The Dane broke down in tears after shooting his own 65. It was not the memories of Royal St George's 2003 which triggered the floodgates, but rather the thought of his father, Ole, who died after a long illness in May. "He meant a lot to me," said Bjorn, the droplets rolling down his cheeks. "He would have been very proud of what I did today. That's all I've really got to say."

On the last occasion he played the 163-yard par three 16th hole, Bjorn infamously took three strokes to extricate himself from a greenside bunker. He was two clear with three holes remaining of the 132nd Open. The rest is history, but the present was almost hysteria. He thought his nine-iron was trap-bound again. But it scraped over and took a fortuitous bounce before rolling to within eight feet. The resulting two summed up the contrast perfectly. His demons were suddenly scattered all over Kent.

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are on one-over, the latter producing a fine fightback from being three-over with five to go. Meanwhile further up the leader board on two-under are the Ulstermen Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell and the world No 3, Martin Kaymer.