Thanks to a 65 shot on golf’s biggest stage in July, 20-year-old Tom Lewis is something of a big deal in the amateur ranks. And, as a result, he is being viewed as the leader of an underdog Great Britain and Ireland squad that faces the United States in this weekend’s 43rd Walker Cup.
“I obviously did well over the year and I feel confident coming into this week,” said Lewis, who was the first-round Open Championship leader after posting the lowest round by an amateur in major championship history. “I’m playing well. So there’s no real excuse why I can’t perform with some of the top boys from America.”
In fairness, Lewis is more than a one-round wonder. At the Open Championship, he was low amateur after tying for 30th. To close out 2010, he played in the Australian Open and New South Wales Open, finishing 12th and second, respectively.
In the amateur ranks, Lewis, of Welwyn Garden City, England, won the 2009 Boys Amateur Championship and this year’s St. Andrews Links Trophy. He presently is seventh in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, ranked behind fellow Englishman and Walker Cup teammate Andy Sullivan and American Walker Cup members Patrick Cantlay (No. 1), Jordan Spieth (No. 2), Patrick Rodgers (No. 3), Peter Uihlein (No. 4) and Harris English (No. 6).
Lewis, though, is not feeling the pressure to carry this squad, which has lost the last three matches and trails the series 7-34-1.
“It would be really nice to play them,” said Lewis if possibly playing in all four segments. “I’m just happy to play any games, and if the team wins, then I don’t mind sitting out four, but obviously I want to play all four. It would be lovely to go out top, but whatever the team’s best order is, then I’m happy with that.”
Given his record, though, Great Britain & Ireland team captain Nigel Edwards does not believe he needs to shelter Lewis from a loaded Yankee lineup.
“Tom will play wherever I feel he will contribute best to the team,” he said. “And I know he will perform very well, and he’s not frightened of anyone.”
Lewis is set to announce he is turning pro after the matches conclude, and despite his success of the past year, Lewis never wavered much from his main goal.
“The Walker Cup was my main goal as an amateur and it would have been silly to have turned pro when it felt like I made the team back in July,” he said. “I’m happy I stayed. I had some struggles a couple of weeks after The Open, but I’m pleased I stayed, because if I turned pro, then I would have made a big mistake.”
Make no mistake, though, Lewis has already proven he has the game for the next level.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.