Saturday 10 December 2016

Stunning victory for rookie Lewis

Bernie McGuire, in Vilamoura

Published 17/10/2011 | 11:09

England's rookie professional Tom Lewis poses with the trophy after his two-shot victory in the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course yesterday
England's rookie professional Tom Lewis poses with the trophy after his two-shot victory in the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course yesterday

Rookie professional Tom Lewis equalled Alejandro Canizares' European Tour record when claiming a maiden victory on only his third start in the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura yesterday.

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Spainiard Canizares also won in his third pro event when he captured 2006 Russian Open.

The 20-year-old Lewis, who turned pro last month after being a member of the victorious GB & I Walker Cup side, carded a final round 65, which included four birdies in succession from the 14th hole, to win by two strokes with a 21-under-par tally. Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello (71) finished second on 19-under.

Even Tiger Woods at his pomp had to wait until his fifth PGA Tour event to secure his first title as a pro in late 1996, while Lewis has also upstaged his idol Rory McIlroy, who captured the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic in his 42nd Tour event.

"Rory is my idol. He's a great player and I would like to be like him one day," said Lewis.

"The good thing with Rory is that he is around my age and I can see what a good player he is and what people think of him.

"He's a really nice guy and he and the other players out here have also been really nice and helpful to me in easing me into the routine.

"Hopefully, now that I am a full member of the Tour, I can get to know Rory a whole lot better."

One of the first to congratulate Lewis was European Tour CEO, George O'Grady who remarked: "Tom, well done and welcome to the European Tour."

Lewis shot to stardom when sharing the lead on the opening day of this year's British Open with a similar 65 being the lowest single-round score by an amateur in the 140th staging of golf's oldest Major.

In fact, Lewis played the opening two Royal St George's rounds with eight-time Major winner, Tom Watson, whom he was named after.

The only person Lewis didn't thank in his victory speech was Bray caddy, Colin Byrne. "I'm gutted I didn't mention Colin's name, but I will make it up to him," said Lewis.

Peter Lawrie headed the Irish challenge, birdieing his opening four holes in a 66 for a share of 11th place at 16-under.

"It's not a bad finish, a 66," said Lawrie. "I got off to a great start with four birdies in a row, so after playing four rounds of the Dunhill and having a week off, and now shooting 16-under par -- it's pretty encouraging."

Lawrie moved up five places to 55th on the 'Race To Dubai', but a disappointed Shane Lowry remains two spots outside the top 60 in 62nd place after a last-day 69 for a 15-under-par tally.

"I putted horrifically today and that cost me any chance in the tournament," he said. "I had two really bad three-putts out there and six-under on the weekend on a golf course like this is not good enough."

Padraig Harrington shared 16th place with Lowry after a closing round 68 and jumped four places to 67th in his quest to contest the season-ending Dubai World Championship. But Harrington has failed to qualify for next month's WGC -- HSBC Champions event in Shanghai by failing to break back into the world's top-25.

"It was a hard task to achieve and no, I'm not disappointed," he said.

Other Irish scores included Gareth Maybin (72) at nine-under, Damien McGrane (75) at five-under, while Gary Murphy (74) was at the back of the field on seven-over-par.

* After firing a closing-round 63 for a four-round total of 15-under, Amercian Ben Crane held his nerve to beat Webb Simpson on the second play-off hole to secure victory in the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island.

Irish Independent

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