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Amateur dramatics from Lewis after veteran Bjorn again

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Rob Hodgetts | 22:04 UK time, Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sport never goes to script and it is all the better for it.

There we were wittering on about Rory, Luke and Lee in the pre-Open build-up.

But like an explosive thunderstorm clearing muggy air, Thomas Bjorn and then Tom Lewis took the tale in a fresh direction and relegated McIlroy, Donald and Westwood to subplots.

The 40-year-old Bjorn and English amateur Lewis, a man half his age, both fired 65s to lead by one shot after round one at Royal St George's.

First we had Bjorn. What a twist that was.

The last time the Dane set foot on Royal St George's in 2003 he was a broken man after blowing a three-shot lead with four to play.

But Lewis stole his thunder late on Thursday. Just when we were getting used to McIlroy as our latest sporting star, a new one may be born.

Lewis, who is dyslexic, took up golf at the age of four and left school at 16 to concentrate full time on the game. He won the British Boys Championship at Royal St George's in 2009 and made the Open field by shooting 63, 65 to win local qualifying at Rye. He plans to turn pro after the Walker Cup in September.

Tom Lewis and Tom Watson

Tom Lewis and Tom Watson shake hands after their first round. Picture: Reuters

His father Bryan is a former European Tour pro who named his son after one of his idols, Tom Watson. His other son is named Jack.

Tom Lewis, who shares his hometown of Welwyn Garden City with six-time major champion Nick Faldo, has been paired with 61-year-old Watson for the first two rounds at Sandwich.

But as a fan himself, young Lewis was desperate not to embarrass himself in front of the five-time Open champion. As it turned out, he became the first amateur to lead the Open since Michael Bonallack in 1968.

Watson called Lewis's play refined and said: "I have to smile inside to watch him play."

Lewis came up through the English Golf Union and R&A amateur system and has been coached for four years by Pete Cowen, the man behind players such as Lee Westwood, 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell and defending Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. He also works with Westwood's fitness coach Stephen McGregor.

Lewis, who said his father is "too nervous" to come this week, showed poise, diplomacy and humour despite admitting he was nervous as he sat in front of a packed press conference.

"I see myself as looking up to everyone because you've got to respect everyone you possibly come across in the world, no matter who they are," he said.

And he paid tribute to his parents and family for sacrificing so much to support him.

"I've had to have great support from brothers and sisters for a lot of money going into me. It's excellent, and without them, I wouldn't have had the opportunities I had. Hopefully their sacrifices will pay off long‑term, but if not, then they're still poor," he added.

Asked who his influences were, Lewis replied: "I could name loads, but I'd be here all night."

He then mentioned McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Watson and David Beckham.

Why Beckham in particular?

"Nick Faldo has won six majors. I would love to win seven because I'm from the same golf club as him and it would be great to go down as the best player from the club," he said.

"David always used to wear seven and I loved the way he played football, and I just loved to replicate it. So that's probably why. And he's got cool hair."

England's new star is already targeting Northern Ireland's young maestro in what would be a European duel to match the Woods and Mickelson era. Or Watson and Nicklaus for that matter. Throw 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, a partner of Watson's in the 2009 Open, into the mix and you have quite a cocktail.

"Rory will definitely get to world number one at some stage in his career," said Lewis. "Hopefully I can get to the same standard and have a few battles with him. That would be a dream."

For now, though, he insists he is just concentrating on maintaining his challenge for the Silver Medal.

"Golf is a four‑day event, and tomorrow is the most important day for me," he said.

Thomas Bjorn enjoyed his first round at Royal St George's

Thomas Bjorn enjoyed his opening round at the 2011 Open. Picture: AP

Bjorn is also aware how quickly the glory can come and go, but he insists he has got over his 2003 collapse, which included a triple-bogey six on the 16th.

"It was eight years ago. A lot of people have asked me about what I feel about the 2003 Open. I mean, it's in the past," said Bjorn, who was also a runner-up in the 2000 Open and 2005 USPGA.

A complex character, his career has been up and down but after only making the field on Monday evening, his latest revival has added poignancy. He is playing in his first major since his father died in May.

"He meant a lot to me," said Bjorn, choking back the tears. "He would have been very proud of what I did today."

But as Bjorn knows all too well, and Lewis could find out, the Claret Jug only gets handed out after 72 holes on Sunday. And Royal St George's is not a place to rest on your laurels.


  • Comment number 1.

    I really hope Bjorn and Lewis can maintain their form, although even cementing their current score with a solid round would be a great effort.

    As an Irishman I hope that McIlroy, McDowell and Clarke can contend, but who knows what will happen with such variable conditions.

    And my outside pick J.B. Holmes has started pretty well- you heard it here first if he wins!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have no comment on this blog, but I don't know where else to complain about the coverage on 5Live today. It was a disgrace.

    BBC decided only to cover about 10 golfers & completely ignored everybody else. This led to ridiculous commentaries like "Lucas Glover has moved to 4 under & tied-2nd" - despite him not having been mentioned for the previous 2 hours. Similarly Darren Clarke was only mentioned at the 0 & 30 minute bulletins.

    Meantime we got discussions of the reporter pedometer, whether he was in calorie balance because of the chocolate cake that he had at lunch, extended repeats of the Rory McIlroy audio montage,......

    The whole thing was a shambles & a disgrace. if you want to be Hello Magazine - then get Richard Bacon to present the coverage (today's debacle was about his level). If you want to be the sports channel of choice - then try presenting the sport.

  • Comment number 3.

    What is it with the British Open? There's always a fairytale. Having been at the 2009 where Old Tom nearly did the business, to 2011 where young Tom has gunned his way round. It's the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. End of. I just hope a Brit can lift the jug....

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm tired of the inane comments between Messrs Cotter and James during the coverage and the ridiculous shots of boats people etc that have nothing to do with the play. Just play it straight BBC and stop trying to make the commentators the stars of the show !!

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to agree with Engineerb.... The coverage that the BBC in general has is fantastic but with a great chance of a homegrown bringing home the Claret Jug, they seem to have lost their ability to show excellent sports coverage. We followed Rory, Luke and others to the nth degree, whilst losing sight of the whole competition. With so many cameras, so many 'roving' reporters and so many talented golfers, I'm hoping that the balance is adjusted over the next couple of days.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Lewis, who is dyslexic, took up golf at the age of four and left school at 16 to concentrate full time on the game. He won the British Boys Championship at Royal St George's in 2009 and made the Open field by shooting 63, 65 to win local qualifying at Rye. "

    Can anyone else spot the irrelevant fact here? What has dyslexia got to do with anything?

  • Comment number 7.

    I never thought I would say this about BBC golf coverage but you have become worse than the americans. Sport fans watch sport to see the action and with golf that's what we want to see. Drives, irons, putts - as many shots as possible. Not inane camera shots of ferries or slow mo of birds taking off coupled with absolute drivel from the commentators. And then to interrupt the coverage with 30 seconds of Thomas Bjorn's press interview just because he was crying (and then post that emotion on your website!) shows the poorest judgement and aligns you with the tabloid journalism that relies on voyeurism.
    One of the worse days BBC golf coverage I have ever seen.

  • Comment number 8.

    The British Open is the only major that seems almost magical. Tom Watson bringing the best out of the young amateur again. What a player Tom Lewis is...he seemed so calm and composed. What a swing...if he has the head for golf then we most certainly will be hearing more about him.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with #6 are they trying to say he reads the greens differently ? sad sad sad he is a talented kid dont do to him what we do to every other English athlete.

  • Comment number 10.

    Could Tom Lewis beat Jacks record of 18 majors? If he wins this weekend he will have plenty of time.

  • Comment number 11.

    'The BBC' are so out of touch and in need of a BIG rethink on their sports coverage.
    Sport is the drug for the masses - we love getting excited by our heroes, and we demand the best coverage.

    In the past few weeks the loss of the 606 message boards, the bare mention of the passing of Alex Hay and the total lack of 'buzz' around the BBC Open Golf coverage - I actually fell asleep at 6.30 pm last night in front of the soporific BBC coverage - that has never happened before! All of this and more has me turning reluctantly, over to the Sky Sports advertisements and sports channels.

    WAKE UP BBC. Golf is so easy to cover - you have a camera on each hole and show something exciting when it happens. Hopefully you will catch a few of those moments live as well. To commentate on the action, you have to do better than Cotter, James and Grady - these are drivellers and has beens. Get some young guys and gals on there, someone playing on tour who has not qualified, maybe some alternative views on golf from the likes of Thomas Levet. And finally, dear old Peter, who has provided some iconic moments in commentary over the years - it is time to say thanks a million, and farewell.

  • Comment number 12.


    What does dyslexia have to do with anything?

    Makes it difficult to read the greens, I expect. :)

  • Comment number 13.

    Will the youngster be able to keep it up? Probably not, because there is so much pressure put on any bright, young star these takes 4 fine rounds to win The Open. The weather turning a bit nastier this afternoon probably won't help him, but if he gets off to a good start then who knows...

    It would be great to see Darren Clarke put in a big round today and set himself up for the weekend, when the weather will play a part.

    In the meantime, nice to see golf getting some coverage from an unexpected source:

  • Comment number 14.

    Totally agree wit #11. BBC golf coverage is stupefyingly dull. Same old clichés, same old presenters.
    I know, let's not spend 10 minutes watching players scratch themselves as they amble down the fairway. Let's show some golf action !
    Why must the BBC try and present golf as if it's a family oriented radio program from the 1960's ?
    Show more golf !!!

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 James Matthew
    Stop talking nonsense, you are the problem with British sport! Such high expectations after 1 good round, Andy Murray, David Haye, Englands Womens football team, Englands mens team I could go on in every sport the media and idiots like you build these people and teams up for what is consistantly being a big fall!

  • Comment number 16.

    Totaaly agree with Post 2, it is the same with both the major broadcasters though, they are happier to talk about Tiger or McIlroy than they are to actually watch some golf. It is awful for some of us that actually would like to see some other players, you know if they are showing a random player on a random hole he is going to hit a brilliant shot, instead of just showing a general consistancy of the field. I am glad Tiger is injured as they would rather show Tiger picking his nose or tieing his shoe lace than they would show a Laird or Poulter actually hit a shot.

  • Comment number 17.

    Secondly this is typical English journalism, the guy has 1 good round and already you are comparing him and McIlroy to Nickalus and Watson. At least let the guy have a chance before the typical English media build the guy up for false hope and massive expectation. Anyone remember Justin Rose or even indeed Chris Wood with high finishes in their early Open careers?? They haven't exactly lived up to the hype! I hope Tom does go on to a flourishing career but he'd have a much better chance without being compared to one of the greatest golfers ever after 18 good holes, I checked out at 96 last night at the darts but unfortunately nobody was comparing me to Phil Taylor :(

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm a proud Brit, but when did this tournament stop being THE Open and start being the British Open?

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry to encroach on this blog, but I really must complain about the organisation for those of us who went by Park and Ride yesterday. It was nothing short of a disaster. I went in 2003 and it was fine so I am not sure what haappened yesterday. There were an awful lot of very disgruntled spectators. We got to the back of the queue on the motorway at 8.10am and eventually made it to the course at 10.50am. There were so many things wrong I won't bore you with it. On the way home, we left the course at 8pm and eventually got to the P & R at 9.30pm, a 10 minute bus ride away normally. I have been trying to get an e-mail address for the R & A, without success. I don't fancy our chances for the Olympics and hope today has been better!

  • Comment number 20.

    Is it to do with advertising or a club spec? I notice a lot of players have the letter G on their caps followed by differing numbers.

  • Comment number 21.

    Tom Lewis hasnt had the best of starts to the British Open day 2 but he has plenty of time to come back. Would he be the youngest winner of the british open ever?
    Look out've got company! Theres a new kid on the block..called Tom Lewis!

  • Comment number 22.

    Westwood looks helpless and appears to have little confidance especially on the putting green. His body language and dare I say, I doubt that he really believes he can hole putts.
    Going by his past form he appears not to be playing regular enough as he used to maintain his form by playing 3,4,5 tournaments on the run. now he barley plays two together no wonder his form is sporadic to say the least. You can't simply practice and just turn up to big events you need to be in the "Groove" and Westy I'm afraid seems to have lost his edge of late?

  • Comment number 23.

    Poor Westwood looks like missing the cut. Its such a pity an amazing talent like him cant perform in majors. But like Colin Montgomery he will still be remembered as an amazing player in regular events.

  • Comment number 24.

    Totally agree with the comments regarding the commentary from BBC. I'm a massive golf fan, so imagine how eager I was at getting in the car and switching on 5 live on my way home from a exceptionally dull conference, how disapointed I was when I heard the first comments:

    "Look at the little fairy circles on the greens" followed by a conversation about what fairy circles actually are, then how the BBC should helicopter in the BBC staff as it was a pain for them to get in!!!!!

    The only time I found out who was at the top of the leaderboard other than Bjorn and Lewis was when I got home and checked myself.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hahaha Lee Westwood I put money on you and you do this to me WHY??? no injuries you had time off no distractions why Lee why? pull your socks up!

  • Comment number 26.

    And the next time bbc film a shed Im writing a strong letter to the producer.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think the comment on Dyslexia is just part of the background character story, telling us that's he's not an academic and left school to concentrate on his Golf. Well done Tom.

    Have to agree the coverage has been grim, I turned on 5 live last night driving home from work and got 10 minutes of chat about the developments in the News International story. I ended up turning over to Talksport for updates. Then when I get home and turn on the TV, there are shots of birds, helicopters and industrial chimneys!

    I always thought the BBC's 'unfair' advantage over it's rivals was they did not need to break for ads and could show uninterrupted coverage, but they have shot themselves in the foot by introducing these breaks.

    Come on BBC, you can do better.

  • Comment number 28.

    How many majors will Tom Lewis win?

  • Comment number 29.

    i must say, it's nice to have a BBC sports journalist say something about someone other than Rory McIlroy...quite frankly the constant barrage of programs, blogs and articles about the NI youngster has been tiresome and sycophantic in the extreme

  • Comment number 30.

    Rory McIlroy is past it..he is old news...Tom Lewis will be the next Tiger Woods...probably better. I dont remember Tiger leading a major when he was an amateur!

  • Comment number 31.

    Westwood wows! He just can't putt, 33 putts first round 35 second round. He can't win majors with this monkey on his back. Darren Clarke 28 & 26 putts that's Westwood's problem. Tee to green nobody better but his putter is a nightmare, bet he feels like packing golf in? Better still get a good putting coach, or have his eyes tested because that's his massive problem, if the does not improve he will drop way down in rankings.

  • Comment number 32.

    Enjoying the coverage of golf on bbc today, apart from the not so wise cracks from Mark James aimed at a few of the players and a particularly insensitive one following Darren Clarke's putt at 18th. Anyway, I agree with 31. Shame to see Lee not able to sink a putt - the rest is so good though I think he will be top 5 in world for a while.

  • Comment number 33.

    Poor Westwood I think will never win a major...some people are big game players and some aren't. Come on Tom Lewis!

  • Comment number 34.

    james mathew - I'm thinking you are actually Tom Lewis's Dad and the reason your not there is not that you are too nervous to watch your son, it's that you can't tear yourself away from posting on the BBC Blogs


  • Comment number 35.


    :-) I have to admit tho after seeing him play yesterday he impressed me more then mcilroy did as an amateur. He's eyes were like steel and you could tell it didnt faze him. Sure today he didnt play well but he's still only 3 off the lead at the British Open. A top 10 would be amazing. I look forward to seeing him play on Tour. A star is born!

  • Comment number 36.

    Westwood, Casey looking like missing the cut. Donald on the cut mark, Poulter 1 inside the cut. A dreaful display from the top English players.
    What has caused this?

  • Comment number 37.

    #35 Aye that's fair comment, he did look very composed and graceful yesterday. Good luck to the boy, I hope he continues to play well.

  • Comment number 38.

    Tom Lewis has company...P. UIHLEIN the amateur from USA is now 2 shots off the lead. Havent seen him play yet but he is after birding 4/5 holes.

  • Comment number 39.

    What’s up the BBC’s golf commentators, Do they not realise that NIR is part of the United Kingdom. We do not all fight ( unfortunately scum-bags do) but
    this is far for the norm. Lough Erne is a mass of large lakes in County Fermanagh with a 154 small islands which is a great location for boating and to make a cheap joke about it referring to Rory’s sponsorship
    Is a bit low. I’m am a proud U.K. citizen with no malice to my republic of Ireland friends, I myself was born into a mixed religion family but players from Northern Ireland should be referred to
    as people from the U.K., Goodness knows we could do with some good publicity at the minute.
    As I write this Northern Ireland has 2 players in the top 10 rankings and if Darren Clarke keeps up the good work we may have 3.
    I am not sure who the commentator who was broadcasting along side Peter but he needs a geography lesson, Peter has been doing this for 50 years, He has still a lot to learn.

    P.S. Remember we have to pay for a BBC license every year the same as the rest of the U.K.

    Yours quiet offended,

    Ray Haveron

  • Comment number 40.

    Think the BBC have just dropped cricket style commentary onto their golfing department - doesnt work! And im a fan of the cricket commentary!

  • Comment number 41.

    36. Whats caused the englishmen to fall like flies ? Its the Arsenal syndrome, all very talented but as Sir Alex would say, they aint got it come squeaky bum time.

    How many majors between them again ? Dont all shout at once now

  • Comment number 42.

    The Open is a fantastic sporting event. The BBC team providing coverage of the event is first class, very professional and very knowledgeable. WITH ONE MAJOR EXCEPTION - Mark James - he is without question the most negative, miserable, ascerbic and contrary individual ever to grace a golf event television studio. The sooner the BBC replaces him with someone capable and worthy of working with Likes of peter Allis, Ken Brown and Hazel Irvine the better. He makes it very difficult for us to want to watch The Open and we are very keen golfers.

  • Comment number 43.

    Mark James is the proverbial loose cannon. His generalisation earlier today about the Northern Irish people was totally unacceptable (I thought broadcasters adopted a time lapse on live TV). If he had made a racist comment based on skin colour he doubtless, and quite rightly, would not have been heard on air again. It seemed barely credible to me that Hazel Irvine was delegated to apologise on his behalf. He should have been required to make the apology in person, his words being the last he ever uttered on the BBC.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have to agree with the general comments about the coverage, extremely disappointing. BBC has a unique opportunity to show lots of action yet choose to follow a small selection of players, interspersed with said players walking between shots and random visuals completely unrelated to the golf. Don't mind a small amount of scene setting but this was overbearing. Cutting to another player almost always results in a holed chip or putt, where knowing what's coming completely spoils the entertainment. In terms of commentary Allis is a little past his best but still has a lot to offer, James is amusing but the rest (on & off course) are pretty hopeless. What a complete contrast to the excellent F1 coverage.

  • Comment number 45.

    In terms of the golf itself, Westwood's putting is atrocious. On links courses particularly, the holes are often on slopes. Westwood dribbles most of his putts 'dead weight' and so they are likely to be going sideways by the time they reach the hole. He's never going to win an open with that approach I'm afraid! The Americans in general seem to be more aggressive with their putts and are doing well at the moment.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear dougers3

    Agree entirely, except that I find Mark James about as amusing as one of my occasional attacks of gout.

    You are certainly right about the switch to the hitherto "unseen" player - you just know it's going in the hole.

  • Comment number 47.

    There was a golden 25 minutes on the red button tonight! from 7.30 onwards, we just had shot after shot, moving around holes, watching golfers playing golf! If it hadn't been for the lack of adverts, I'd have thought I was watching a Etp production on Sky, so I assume the pictures must always be there & it's just the BBC producer, who probably knows nothing about golf who's to blame!

  • Comment number 48.

    This one has Freddie Andersson Hed written all over it.


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