Rookie Lewis lives up to his billing

 

Golf: Twenty-year-old Tom Lewis, who shot to fame by leading The Open as an amateur in July, pulled off a sensational victory in only his third professional start when claiming the Portugal Masters on Sunday.

The Welwyn Garden City golfer, whose caddie is Irish Timescolumnist Colin Byrne, birdied five of the last seven holes to win at Oceanico Victoria against a field that included three-major winner Pádraig Harrington and world number six Martin Kaymer.

Lewis, who entered the closing stretch only in seventh spot, shot a brilliant closing 65 to take the €427,000 first prize with a 21-under-par total of 267.

Far from having to go to the qualifying school in December - he entered the week 234th on the European Tour money list and outside the world’s top 600 - he is now exempt for the next two seasons and all set up for what looks certain to be a bright future.

Peter Lawrie shot a final round of 66 to finish best of the Irish, one ahead of Harrington (68) and Shane Lowry (69).Ulsterman Gareth Maybin was next in line after a 71 left him on nine under, while Damien McGrane dropped back to five under with a 75 and Gary Murphy finished seven over after his 74.

Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello birdied three of the last four holes to move out of a logjam at 18-under and claim second place on his own.

It was an impressive - and highly lucrative - comeback for the Spaniard after he had taken seven at the par five 12th and dropped a further shot at 14.

Tiger Woods needed five tournaments to land his first professional title, while Rory McIlroy did not taste success until his 38th European Tour event.

"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 his last 52 holes.

Lewis, who a month ago was playing in the Walker Cup as an amateur, was only in seventh spot with seven holes to go at Oceanico Victoria. But he two-putted the long 12th and then had four more birdies in a row from the 14th.

Suddenly, with previous joint leaders Peter Hanson, Christian Nilsson, Felipe Aguilar and Cabrera-Bello all finding water entering the closing stretch, Lewis was three clear. He held his nerve to par the dangerous final hole and had to wait the best part of an hour before his victory was confirmed.

Instead of facing a trip to the Tour school in December - he entered the week 234th on the Tour money list and 621st in the world - he now knows that his future is secured.

"I would not have expected this at all," he added. "I was really dreading going to the qualifying school at the end of the year, but it looks like I've skipped that."

Instead, he will be making a World Championship debut in China next month and is now third place on the Ryder Cup points table.

Remarkably, Lewis was five strokes outside the halfway cut mark when he bogeyed the opening two holes of his second round on Friday. But he turned that into a 64, was four behind Cabrera-Bello with 18 holes to go and seized his chance brilliantly as those ahead of him made mistakes.

After pitching to six feet on the 14th, he drove the green at the 315-yard next, two-putted for another birdie, made a 25-footer from the fringe of the short 16th and two-putted again on the par five 17th.

He added: "I was just happy shooting in the 60s no matter where I finished. If you had said I would finish 21-under I would have said 'No way'."

Final-round collated scores and totals, Oceanico Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, Portugal

(Gbr & Irl unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72):

267Tom Lewis 70 64 68 65

269Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 69 65 64 71

270Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 66 66 67 71, Christian Nilsson (Swe) 69 64 66 71, George Coetzee (Rsa) 70 69 66 65, David Lynn 70 68 68 64, Gregory Havret (Fra) 66 69 71 64

271Thomas Bjorn (Den) 65 69 66 71, Jamie Donaldson 69 68 67 67, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 67 68 70 66

272Peter Hanson (Swe) 66 70 64 72, James Kingston (Rsa) 64 68 70 70, Paul Lawrie 69 66 69 68, Peter Lawrie 67 68 71 66, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 67 68 72 65

273Hennie Otto (Rsa) 72 67 63 71, Steve Webster 66 70 70 67, Shane Lowry 69 66 69 69, Rhys Davies 65 67 72 69, Simon Khan 65 66 71 71, Pádraig Harrington 67 71 67 68, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 70 66 69 68

274Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 67 69 68 70, Pedro Figueiredo (Por) 71 65 71 67, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 66 72 68 68, Johan Edfors (Swe) 66 67 76 65

275Ross Fisher 66 70 71 68, Steven O'Hara 68 71 69 67

276Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 69 68 69 70, Peter Whiteford 71 67 67 71, Daniel Gaunt (Aus) 69 67 71 69, Alexander Noren (Swe) 67 70 72 67, David Dixon 69 64 70 73, Joost Luiten (Ned) 67 71 69 69, Keith Horne (Rsa) 69 65 67 75, Tano Goya (Arg) 67 69 70 70, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 69 66 66 75

277Anthony Wall 67 72 68 70, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 67 70 70 70, Stephen Dodd 68 70 70 69, Marc Warren 70 69 70 68, Bradley Dredge 70 68 67 72, Jose Manuel Lara (Spa) 70 69 68 70

278Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 69 68 70 71, Colin Montgomerie 67 72 71 68, Phillip Price 69 68 70 71, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 68 67 72 71, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 68 69 71 70, Oliver Fisher 69 66 71 72

279 Gareth Maybin 65 71 72 71, Rafael Echenique (Arg) 72 65 70 72

280Martin Wiegele (Aut) 70 69 71 70, Soren Hansen (Den) 66 72 71 71, Alastair Forsyth 68 70 70 72, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 69 69 70 72, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 65 74 69 72, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 69 69 67 75, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 68 70 70 72

281Marcel Siem (Ger) 71 68 69 73, Richard McEvoy 67 68 74 72, Mark Foster 67 69 73 72

282Alvaro Velasco (Spa) 70 66 70 76, David Howell 71 68 71 72, Michael Jonzon (Swe) 71 67 73 71, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 66 72 71 73

283 Damien McGrane 69 70 69 75,David Drysdale 69 67 76 71, David Horsey 68 71 69 75, James Morrison 70 68 70 75

284Robert Rock 69 69 71 75, Richard Green (Aus) 71 68 67 78

287Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 69 68 75 75, Kenneth Ferrie 70 68 75 74

295 Gary Murphy 67 72 82 74