Lewis 'a unique talent'

Tue, 18 Oct 18:38:00 2011

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady hailed Tom Lewis on Tuesday as golf's "new young star" following the Briton's spectacular victory at the Portugal Masters.

Tom Lewis - 0

The 20-year-old, in only his third tournament as a professional, produced a blistering final-round 65 to record a two-shot win at Vilamoura on Sunday.

Lewis's achievement of winning third time out equalled the 2007 feat of Rory McIlroy, who won the US Open four months ago and is now ranked third in the world. Former number one Tiger Woods won his fifth professional tournament.

"We have witnessed the emergence of a new young star," O'Grady said. "It was a breathtaking performance."

O'Grady said the tour was fortunate to have three outstanding young players in Lewis, McIlroy, 22, and Italian Matteo Manassero, 18.

"Tom, Rory and Matteo are three unique talents who have been lucky to break through early in their careers," said O'Grady.

"Matteo has already won twice and he is a precision player who always looks under control while Rory had to learn how to lose tournaments before he could win them."

The blond Lewis, named after American great Tom Watson, burst on the scene when he shared the lead with Dane Thomas Bjorn after the first round of The Open at Sandwich in July.

His opening five-under 65 included a dazzling run of four successive birdies from the 14th and helped him become the first amateur to lead the Open since 1968.

O'Grady said there were plenty of similarities between Lewis and fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who is ranked 17th in the world.

"When Justin turned professional at the age of 17 there was also a great razamatazz," he explained.

"Justin played really well to finish fourth at the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale as an amateur and of course holed that wonder shot from off the green at the 72nd hole. He had a tough time for a while but then he came good."

O'Grady said he was impressed by Lewis's demeanour on and off the course last week.

"Tom is very level-headed for someone so young," he said. "I think the quality of his play left him stunned but he still gave a good speech at the prize giving and paid respect to all the people around him especially his parents.

"Guys like him, Manassero and McIlroy have a lot of parental support. None of them come from hugely wealthy families and so they've had to dig deep financially to give their offspring support.

"I don't know Tom well but what I've seen from him I like. He beat a quality field, people like Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn, Peter Hanson, Alvaro Quiros and a lot of other good players," O'Grady added.

"It was great to see and I think we were very lucky to witness it."

Reuters

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