British Open 2011: Tom Lewis' Amateur Hour

Espen UldalContributor IIIJuly 15, 2011

The old and the new Tom of the Open
The old and the new Tom of the OpenScott Halleran/Getty Images

With first round 65s of both Thomas Bjorn and Amateur Tom Lewis, history could be in the making at the British Open 2011.

Lewis, a 20-year-old native of Welwyn Garden City, England, opened his first British Open with a five-under 65 – the lowest round by an amateur in Open history – to share the 18-hole lead with Thomas Bjorn.

Lewis, named after five-time British Open winner Tom Watson, won the 2009 Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal St. George’s. Prior to yesterday, the lowest round shot by an amateur at the British Open was 66, recorded in the fourth round by Frank Stranahan in 1950. In addition, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose both shot second round scores of 66 in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

The last amateur who lead the British Open after any round was Michael Bonallack (now Sir Michael Francis Bonallack), who shared the opening round lead with Brian Barnes after matching 70s at the 1968 British Open at Carnoustie. However, Mike Reid was the last amateur to lead a Major Championship. Reid was in front by three strokes after the first round of the 1976 U.S. Open.

Three amateurs have won the British Open a total of six times. Bobby Jones won in 1926, 1927 and 1930 while Harold Hilton won in both 1892 and 1897 and John Ball won 1890.

Should Lewis win this week, he will be the next-to-youngest winner of the British Open in history. Tom Morris Jr., was 17 years, five months, and three days old when he won in 1868.