I was at a wedding over the weekend. I only mention this because one of the guests asked me what I thought Tom Lewis‘ chances were of making it as a professional following his amateur heroics during The Open when he shot the lowest ever round by an amateur, 65.
So I delivered my off the shelf mini-lecture whereby I point out that pro sport is littered with the bodies of brilliant young men and women who fail to crack on when they give up playing a game fo fun and take on playing for a living. The jury, I concluded, is out. And we went back to the bar.
Twenty-four hours later, 20-year-old Lewis cracked on. And on. And on. To win a European Tour title in your first year is some feat, to do so in your third pro event is something else. He was lucky in as much as he started the final round outside the leading pack, lucky because this clearly freed him up to give it a go, to attack and to then look up and see where he finished.
Even, so this was an impressive performance by the baby-faced Englishman. Rory McIlroy took 38 pro events before he won. Even Tiger took five. Watching his final holes on TV I saw a player clearly within himself, a golfer who was thinking and thinking hard and logically. Yes, he went for it but having established a lead he played the sort of controlled golf that suggests a glittering future now that he has erased the need to attend the Q School and is guaranteed a full card for the next two years.
I can’t tell you how important this two-year thing is. He can now plan a sensible schedule, can now grow into his new job, can now pack away any feelings of mild panic.
Of course, he is not yet the finished article – happily, he admits this himself – but there is enormous promise. I hate to introduce anything downbeat but he should also be aware that others have rocketed towards the top before him only to burn out and fall back to earth just as swiftly.
I am thinking of players like Paul Way and Robert Lee, huge talents who achieved wildly and then slipped away. Will Tom Lewis fall into this category? As ever, only time will tell but, for now, we should applaud the arrival of what seems another special English talent.