Wednesday, July 11, 2012


By , Golf Correspondent
“No, I’m not too disappointed not to have qualified,” he said. “The course doesn’t suit me. And there would be a lot of hype around me and I’m not in the shape I was this time last year, when I thought I could compete and even win. I’d be making up the numbers and I don’t want to do that. It would be embarrassing, people remembering me from last year and coming back and seeing me like this.”
So as the world’s best go to the links, Lewis will go to the range. “I’ll do everything I can to avoid it on television,” he said. “There might be a few clips of last year and I don’t want to see them, because of the position I was in then, which was excellent, compared to the position I’m in now.”
Judging by those comments, things obviously have not worked out for Lewis since as an unknown 20 year-old from the same Welwyn Garden City club as Sir Nick Faldo he shot a first round of 65 – the lowest score by an amateur in 151 years of Open history. So what did he do next?
Well, apart from winning his third event as a professional, securing a full European Tour card for two years and amassing more than £500,000 in collective earnings, very, very little.
“I suppose some people’s standards are set lower,” he said. “What can I say, I’m gutted I haven’t won again since and gutted I can’t compete if I’m not playing great. The confidence just drained to empty. That’s what happens when you’re playing with against this lot.
“If you shoot three-under in the amateurs you’re leading; if you shoot three-under out here you’re tied for 25th. In the amateurs you think ‘I’m the best in the world’. Out here I’m thinking, ‘I’m just a chopper’. Yeah, I proved to myself I could win on a flukey week when my timing was in. But otherwise I’m not nearly good enough in so many areas of my game.”
To be fair to Lewis, this inferiority complex has some foundation. Since beating Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington at the Portuguese Masters in October, Lewis has made just four out of 13 cuts and is outside of the top 100 on the money list. From being drawn among the marquee groups, he is now paired with the has-beens, wannabes and never-will-bes.
“I’ve been really low in myself,” Lewis said. “I didn’t want to play and that’s why, if you look at my schedule, I haven’t played too much. I’ve been so angry with myself. Someone up there looked down and let me have this great week at Portugal and gave me this opportunity to become a good player – and I ruined it. I suppose it’s a good thing because it’s made me want it more. And at least I feel I’m pointing forwards again.”
Lewis has finally sought help. He caused many eyebrows to disappear under visors on the range when, a few months after Portugal, he split with Pete Cowen, the revered Yorkshireman who had coached him since he was 16. Instead he went to Ken Brown for chipping advice while his father, Bryan, was entrusted with his long game. A month ago, Tom and Bryan, himself a former Tour pro, asked Brown to phone Butch Harmon.
The American agreed to see him two weeks ago. Lewis scratched from the Irish Open and headed to Las Vegas for two days of assessment. As soon as Harmon saw the swing, he whipped out the tapes of a rather famous former pupil.
“He showed me what Tiger did when he first went to him,” said. “And I’m not saying I’m Tiger Woods, but the faults were very similar. My body stops and my hands carry on, which causes me to overswing and on the downswing to get behind it and flip at it a little bit.
“I think it’s a strength thing. Of course, Butch sorted it out for Tiger and I’m really excited to think that, one day, I could swing it like he did.”
Lewis will see Harmon as often as the latter can oblige. He hopes the benefits of the work will emerge quickly, although he accepts it could take months.
The way Lewis views it, he has until the end of 2013, when his exemption for the Vilamoura win expires, to re-establish himself. This time, he is determined to be in control on the ascent.
“I need to have a lot more self-belief,” Lewis said, heeding some advice from his friend, Ian Poulter. “And I definitely need to become more selfish.”
To this end, Tom Lewis is now concentrating on Tom Lewis. He has recently parted with his girlfriend of 2½ years and is striving for more independence within his tight family circle. “I’ve always been with my father; all the time,” he said. “So when I go home, I try to stay away a bit. He was more of my boss than my Dad, which was great in some ways but a shame in others. But then, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here.”
By nature, this commendably honest young man is anything but selfish. As soon as he collected that winning cheque for £350,000, he paid off his parents’ debts. “I didn’t know how bad the situation had become, how much they’d spent on me, so It was the least I could do,” he said. “I’m not lying when I say don’t think about money or fame because that’s not what it’s about for me; they just come with playing well,” he added .
“And I will play well, I’m sure of it. I’m 21, have my full card, and can’t waste this chance to become one of he really good players. Yeah, I want to go back to the Open, but as a contender not a curiosity. I want to have that feeling of leading The Open again. But on the fourth day, not the first.”



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