Surprises continue at the Open

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The Independent Online

A day of surprises at The Open ended with the biggest one of all - the lowest-ever round by an amateur in the 140-year history of the championship.

Twenty-year-old Tom Lewis, a qualifier from the same Welwyn Garden City club that produced Sir Nick Faldo, went round Royal St George's in a five under par 65.



And he leads with Thomas Bjorn, the Dane who eight years ago on the course led by three with four to play before stumbling horribly over the closing stretch and losing by one to shock winner Ben Curtis.



Lewis, the first amateur to share the lead in the event since Michael Bonallack at Carnoustie in 1968, has a previous memory of the links too - but a great one.



He won the British boys title two years ago and earned a return trip by winning a final qualifying event down the coast at Rye two weeks ago.



His 65 beats by one the previous amateur record set by American Frank Stranahan in 1950 and subsequently matched by Tiger Woods in 1996 and Justin Rose two years later.

Lewis played with five-time champion Tom Watson - the player he is named after - and was inspired just like 16-year-old Matteo Manassero was at Turnberry in 2009.



Watson helped the young Italian finish 13th while he himself, of course, was agonisingly just missing out on becoming golf's oldest major champion by 12 years.



This time the American legend was out-scored by seven shots by a player who has now stepped onto the global stage at the very time England also have the top two players in the world.



Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both came in with 71s, as did 22-year-old Rory McIlroy in his first event since his runaway US Open success.



But they were pushed into the shade by the previously little-known Hertfordshire player, who qualified with rounds of 63 and 65.



"I don't even know what happened out there - I can't remember," he said.



"I'm thrilled to bits and I couldn't have played with a more generous man.



"Tom was great to play with. He wanted me to do well and helped me out."



Bjorn's 65 had long finished when Lewis teed off just after 2.30pm, but he started making inroads with a two at the 240-yard third.



Conditions were kind to the late starters, with rain clearing away and the wind speed dropping, but nobody made hay like the youngster.



He got up and down from a bunker at the long seventh, then added another birdie at the 453-yard next to turn in 32.



It looked as if he might fall back into the pack when he bogeyed the 11th and 13th, but then came an incredible four birdies in a row at a place where Curtis was the only player to finish under par eight years ago.



The last of them was a 20-footer that brought him alongside Bjorn and he then chipped to five feet on the last and made it to stay there.

The last amateur to lead any major was American Mike Reid at the 1976 United States Open.



Lewis and Bjorn ended the day one in front of 46-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2009 US Open champion Lucas Glover and his fellow American Webb Simpson.



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