Tue, Oct 18, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Lewis wins Portugal Masters, puts Tiger in his place

AFP, LISBON

England’s Tom Lewis holds the trophy after winning the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

England’s Tom Lewis, who briefly led July’s British Open with the lowest-ever score by an amateur, clinched a maiden European Tour title on Sunday with a two-shot victory at the Portugal Masters.

The 20-year-old hit the headlines at Sandwich in England when his opening 65 gave him a share of the British Open lead.

On Sunday, in just his third event as a professional, he converted that potential into silverware thanks to a final round 65 for a 21-under-par total.

“I wouldn’t have expected that at all,” Lewis said. “I was dreading qualifying school at the end of the year, but it looks like I’ve skipped that. I’m just really pleased with my performance.”

Victory gave him a check for 416,660 euros (US$578,000) and a place in the record books ahead even of Tiger Woods, who needed five tournaments to land his first professional title.

“I’ve not thought about the money — I was thinking about winning,” said the new champion, who had an incredible 22 birdies and only one bogey in the last 52 holes and now has a two-year exemption from qualifying school.

Instead of qualifying school, Lewis will now make a World Golf Championships debut in China next month after leaping to third place on the Ryder Cup points table.

“To have two years on the European Tour, I would not have dreamt that at the beginning of the week, so I’m really pleased,” he said.

Lewis’ seven-under-par round at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course allowed him to finish two ahead of Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, the overnight leader.

He started with birdies from five feet at the first and fifth. A two-putt birdie at the par-five 12th was followed by a pitch to six feet at the 14th, and he drove the green at the par four 15th.

Two putts gave him another birdie there, but he only required one putt at the 16th from 30 feet.

Lewis reached the 17th green in two and rolled his eagle putt to within a foot, meaning he had -birdied five of his last six holes to blow away a world-class field.

After his heroics at the British Open, Lewis was then part of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup side before joining the professional ranks, producing a top-10 finish in his first event in Austria.

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