'I played well and got cheers for "Tom" – though that might be Tom Watson'

Lewis set to rapidly turn professional after shining alongside legend

Tom Lewis could well turn professional immediately if his staggering progress continues at this Open Championship. The 20-year-old, who shot a 65 to hold the joint first-round lead, told The Independent that his plans could alter.

In an interview as he prepared for his first major, Lewis revealed that he intends to turn pro the day after the Walker Cup in September. "But all that would change if I won or if I did really well here," he said. IMG, the management giants, have won the race to sign the young Englishman and could be tempted to cash in on the new fame.

That is in the future and for now Lewis simply intends to "keep my head down and concentrate". Lewis, who is dyslexic, will not look at newspapers. "I won't turn the TV on either," he said. Seeing as he will tee-off at 9.30am today and was "having an early night" he should be able to avoid the hype.

Not only did Lewis become the first amateur to lead the Open in 43 years, but he also posted the lowest round ever for an amateur in the Open, beating the 66 posted by Frank Stranahan in 1950 and matched by Tiger Woods in 1996 and Justin Rose in 1998. Little wonder his playing partner, Tom Watson, commented: "I just had to smile inside watching him play." That was how everyone at Sandwich felt.

Lewis looked coolness personified, but later he explained how tense he was. On the first tee, particularly. "I was more nervous not to embarrass myself in front of him," he said. In the event he hit the fairway and from there stunned the world.

It was not a total surprise to Lewis as he won the British Boys' Championship here and has played more links golf this year than anyone else in the field. "It is an advantage," he said. Lewis had told The Independent that he believed he could contend "if I play well". Well, he certainly did yesterday.

Lewis took up the game at four. His father Bryan was a professional who played on the European Tour in the late Eighties. He taught Tom until he was 16, and when he left school was introduced to Pete Cowen. The Yorkshireman, who also coaches Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and, interestingly, Thomas Bjorn, told The Independent: "Tom is the most professional amateur I've ever seen."

It is already written in Open folklore that he was named after Watson. "He's my dad's hero," said Lewis, whose younger brother is called Jack. Bryan did not travel down to Kent as "he was too nervous". "He'll ring tonight and will be thrilled," added Lewis. Instead, he was watched by his mother, Lynda, "and about 30 friends".

His ambition is to win one more major than Sir Nick Faldo and take over the cabinet which sits in the golf club in Welwyn Garden City in tribute to their most famous golfing son. Faldo, of course, won seven majors. "It would be great to go down as the best player from the club," said Lewis, who has only met Faldo a few times. "But I've got a long way to go."

Some might say he's got three days, although perhaps he should not be judged purely on this score. Last month he won the St Andrews Links Trophy on the amateur circuit and last November beat many European Tour regulars at the New South Wales Open before being pipped in a play-off by Peter O'Malley. But yesterday's form put all of that success into the shade, as well as the 63 and 65 he shot at Rye last week to win his qualifying event.

"I played well today, 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," said Lewis. "I was really grateful and I had a great time out there. To play with Tom, no matter what I shot, was going to be excellent."

News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore