Lewis advances to match play at British Am
SOUTHPORT, England – Pride drove Tom Lewis into the match-play stages of the British Amateur Championship.
Lewis turned up at Hillside Golf Club for the second round of qualifying determined to make amends for a disastrous 76 at Hesketh the day before. His 5-over-par effort around the easier course put him in danger of missing out on the chance to win the world’s biggest amateur championship.
“I put myself under pressure after yesterday’s round,” Lewis said. “It would have been embarrassing if I had missed the cut.”
Lewis turned up in Southport fresh off a four-stroke victory in the St. Andrews Links Trophy. No wonder there is a lot of focus this week on the man who many think is the strongest player in European amateur golf at the moment.
“It’s obviously hard to play well two weeks in a row,” he said, “but this is such a big week I was determined to perform.”
Lewis’ chances of doing that didn’t look good after he bogeyed the opening hole. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s it; I’m going home.’ But I didn’t drop a shot for the next 17 holes and made three birdies. Just getting into the match-play stages is the only thing that matters, and I’ve done that.”
Lewis hails from Welwyn Garden City, England, Nick Faldo’s hometown. The 20-year-old can outdo his former neighbor by winning the British Amateur Championship, a feat that escaped Faldo.
Lewis’ progress to the match-play stages will please Nigel Edwards, the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain. So, too, will the play of Alastair Jones, the current Welsh Amateur champion.
Jones, who has just finished his junior year at Texas State, takes second seed into the match-play stages after rounds of 72 and a 3-under 68 at Hesketh. Jones finished a stroke behind England’s Gregory Eason.
Jones hasn’t won in college golf. However, the Welshman led his Bobcats team this season in stroke average with a 73.76 mark. He also had five top-10 finishes, including second place in the Lone Star State Invitational.
Eason, from Leicestershire, England, returned rounds of 71-68 for a 4-under 139. He has just finished his freshman year at the University of Central Florida. The plus-3 handicap is now looking forward to a form of golf with which he isn’t really familiar.
“I hardly play any match-play golf, but I’m going to approach it in the same way as the last two days,” Eason, 18, said. “If I play as well as I have done, then I’ll be OK.”
Eason will try to defy the British Amateur curse. Seven of the past 11 medalists have gone out in the first round. Only Italy’s Matteo Manassero in 2009 and England’s Warren Bladon (1996) have led the qualifying and gone on to win.
So Edwards will be able to log the progress of Eason along with that of Lewis and Jones. He will also be able to keep tabs on Ireland’s Paul Cutler, Scotland’s Kris Nicol, Andrew Sullivan of England, former East Tennessee State player Michael Stewart and Welshman Oliver Farr.
However, he won’t be able to watch half of his squad members. Lytham Trophy winner Jack Senior failed to qualify. So, too, did Scotland’s Ross Kellett, former St. Andrews Links Trophy winner Alan Dunbar, East Tennessee State’s Rhys Enoch, Darren Wright, 2009 Walker Cupper Stiggy Hodgson and Tyrrell Hatton.
James Byrne is perhaps the biggest member of Edwards’ Walker Cup squad to miss the match-play stages. Byrne, who has just completed his senior year at Arizona State, double bogeyed the last at Hesketh for a 5-over 148 total to miss the cut by a shot.
Byrne finished runner-up to Jin Jeong in last year’s final. This performance does not help Byrne’s chances of playing in Edwards’ team in front of his hometown fans at Royal Aberdeen on Sept. 10-11.
Scores of GB&I Walker Squad Players
Alastair Jones, 72, 68–140, -3
Andrew Sullivan, 72, 71–143, level
Michael Stewart, 72, 72–144, +1
Tom Lewis, 76, 70–146, +3
Kris Nicol, 76, 70–146, +3
Oliver Farr, 75, 72–147, +4
Paul Cutler, 72, 75–147, +4
James Byrne, 78, 70–148, +5
Tyrrell Hatton, 78, 70–148, +5
Stiggy Hodgson, 75, 73–148, +5
Ross Kellett, 75, 74–149, +6
Jack Senior, 76, 74–150, +7
Alan Dunbar, 80, 73–153, +10
Darren Wright, 79, 76– +9
Rhys Enoch, 76, 79–155, +12