England's next big thing ready to follow in legend Watson's footsteps

Great things are expected of Tom Lewis, not least by his dad who named him after the man he plays with tomorrow

Tom Lewis has a simple ambition. He wants to win one more major than Sir Nicholas Faldo and take over the memorial cabinet at the golf club in Welwyn Garden City where they both learned to play the game. "That would be nice," he said here yesterday.

That's "nice" as in it might indeed happen, not "nice" as in it is a dream based in the outer limits of fantasyland. When Tom Watson partners the 20-year-old amateur in tomorrow's first round of the Open Championship, he will discover that Lewis is an amiable young man who is rather confident of his destiny.

The five-time champion will also find out that Lewis was named in his honour. "He was always my father's favourite golfer," explained Lewis. "My younger brother's name is Jack. When the draw came out on Monday I think Dad was more excited and more nervous than I was. I don't think he believed me at first. He's coming down here tomorrow and is obviously looking forward to it."

As is the player himself, although don't expect Lewis to be overawed. He spotted Watson walking up the 18th fairway yesterday and ran across to introduce himself. Did he refer to him as Mr Watson or Tom? "Tom," said Lewis. The question clearly mystified him a bit.

But then Lewis is not your average young golfer. For the past few months agents have been fighting it out for his signature, with the giants of International Management Group eventually prevailing. "I'm going to turn pro the day after the Walker Cup in September," he said. "Unless I win here." Lewis wasn't joking.

Why should he have been? He is coached by the same instructor who oversees Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenson. "Tom is the most professional amateur I've ever seen," said Pete Cowen, who has worked with him for four years. "He knows what he's doing, knows what he wants to do, he's got a path and nothing will stop him following that path."

Cowen has seen them come and seen them go awry. The Yorkshireman's mood implicated Lewis will not be one of the casualties and his optimism is replicated throughout the game. Nigel Edwards, the Walker Cup captain who will lead the amateurs of Great Britain and Ireland into battle against the United States at Royal Aberdeen, talks about him in the same breath as two former team-mates – Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. "He's good," says the Welshman.

His results prove it. The amateur titles have arrived in haste – recently he won the St Andrews Links Trophy at the home of golf – and so, very nearly, did a professional title. Last November, when still a teenager, Lewis beat many European Tour regulars in the New South Wales Open before being pipped in a play-off by Peter O'Malley, the Australian who beat Tiger Woods in the 2002 World Match Play. Lewis went on to finish 12th in the Australian Open.

The cat had leapt out of the bag, but in Hertfordshire they had known about his quality for years. Lewis started when he was four. His father, Bryan, was a teaching professional who had a few years on Tour and played with Welwyn Garden City's most famous son. "I owe my father everything and without him I wouldn't be here," he said. "I don't really know Faldo. I think I met him when I played in his junior series. At our club there is this big tribute to him and his six majors. It would be nice to get to seven."

Of course, he recognises it would be nice to get one first and he is not totally discounting that possibility here this week. "I won the British Boys Championship here two years ago and, like St Andrews, I think Sandwich suits me," he said. "Most of the pros don't play much links golf, but that's basically all we play on the amateur circuit. So there's no excuse. Look what Chris Wood did a few years ago when he was an amateur [the Bristolian finished fourth in 2008]. If I can play well this week, I can compete. If I don't then I'll be going home on Saturday. But whatever, this will be experience which can be of real benefit to my career in the future. Just to meet and talk to Tom Watson will be great."

Lewis was reminded that the last amateur Watson partnered in the Open was Matteo Manassero, the Italian 18-year-old who has already twice won on the European Tour. That is the calibre of prodigy against whom Lewis will be judged. The rounds of 63 and 65 he shot to win his qualifying competition at Rye last week suggests he can nudge the verdict.

Yesterday he played with Ian Poulter and today he hopes to partner Padraig Harrington. Then comes the veteran who almost won at Turnberry two years ago. "This is unreal," said Lewis. But his eyes told a different story. This is very, very real for England's next big thing.

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam