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July 14, 2011

Tom Lewis


LYNN WALLACE: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Tom Lewis, who scored 5-under 65 to tie the lead and is the first amateur to lead The Open since 1968. Tom, it must have been amazing out there. You had great support from the crowds. Can you give us your thoughts.
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, I played well today, got a lot of cheers for Tom, but I think at first it was for Tom Watson, and then towards the end I was playing well, so I think they were cheering for me, as well. So I was really grateful and I had a great time out there.

Q. Can you just give us an insight to what it was like playing alongside the legend you were named after and to put in such a great score, as well, today.
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, it was excellent playing with Tom today. When I saw the draw, I was on the putting green when I heard about it, and I couldn't really have asked for a better draw. I know had Henrik from Dubai and he's a nice guy, and to play with Tom was just a great experience, and to shoot a great score in front of Tom was a great experience, as well, so I couldn't have asked for more.

Q. Are you more excited about the score or playing with Tom Watson?
TOM LEWIS: I think on the first tee, to play with Tom, no matter what I shot, was going to be excellent. I was more not wanting to embarrass myself in front of him. To shoot 65 in front of Tom was just excellent, and he was just a great man to play with today.

Q. I believe that you've spent part of your learning time down at Wentworth, and I think your dad got Julian Small to be your mentor there. How much did that play a part in your progress?
TOM LEWIS: I was a member at Wentworth a couple of years, but I never really got down there. But Julian was a really nice guy, and when I got to see him, it was my first club, and I played really down there not as much as I would have liked, but it's an excellent place to go, and Julian was a really nice guy.

Q. Could you concentrate on your shots on the 18th green, or did you steal a glance up to the leaderboard, acknowledge the galleries, think, here I am alongside Tom Watson on the 18th during an Open? You must have had to pinch yourself.
TOM LEWIS: I think I was in the zone. I didn't really know what I was doing. I walked up to the green, and I didn't realise I probably should have waited for Tom, and I felt very bad. But I was just mostly concentrating on making that up-and-down and making sure I was at the top of the leaderboard. But there's three days to go and hopefully I can get a good round tomorrow. But if not hopefully I'll be at the top of the leaderboard again. I'll try my best.

Q. Was there anything Tom Watson said to you before the round, during, afterwards that encouraged you? And being from Welwyn, anything that Nick Faldo said to you that sticks out?
TOM LEWIS: I introduced myself to Tom Tuesday. Tuesday I saw him doing a few interviews on the 18th, and I thought it was good to introduce myself before the first tee on Thursday because I think I would have been more nervous than I already was. He was just a really nice guy, put his arm around me and asked me how old I was. I'm sure he wasn't as shocked as maybe playing with Matteo who was 16. It was nice to play with him today. It was just a great, great experience.
Nick Faldo, I think I haven't seen him much. I've played in some of his Faldo Series Finals and spoke to him a little bit but never was a big conversation. I'm sure I'll bump into him along my route.

Q. Can you give us a little background on why your parents named you after Tom Watson? What is their affiliation was with him?
TOM LEWIS: My dad was a golfer. He played on the European Tour for a couple of years. Tom Watson was his hero, so I was the first son, so I was Tom. And my brother was Jack, so you can imagine who that was after.

Q. Your father's name?
TOM LEWIS: Brian, Brian Lewis.

Q. Tom Watson used the phrase "refined" to talk about your play, refined. Can you talk about how you have been able to progress so much to being able to do this at your age.
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, it's obviously through amateur, travelling with the teams in England, and the R & A have done a great job with us and they've given us opportunities to play against the best players in the world. Without their help, I wouldn't be where I am. And I've got a great team around me, and they've just progressed me in the last couple years. And I was looking forward to coming back if it was possible, playing at Rye and playing really well in local qualifying, where I won the British Boys. Obviously it was a special moment for me, winning here and to come back to where you've won is extra special.
I was just thrilled to be here, but to shoot 65 the first round was something I wouldn't have thought. I was just happy to get the drive off the tee on the 1st, and that was all that mattered.

Q. What was the realistic target you had in your head as you approached the first tee this morning? What score would you have been happy with?
TOM LEWIS: Obviously I play links courses all year, so I've had more advantage than anyone else in the field probably. I've only played one this year that's not been on links. So obviously I knew that if I did play well, which I was at the time, I could have shot a good score. But I didn't really have a target in my head. I was just more nervous about making sure I hit the first tee shot and not messing up early. I hit a good shot into 3, and I think that settled the nerves. I made some great up-and-downs, and having about eight putts through eight holes, I think you couldn't have asked for better.
I felt comfortable after that. Obviously making birdies from 14 to 17 was even better, and that's when I started to realise that I was at the top of the leaderboard.

Q. I understand your mother is here. Is your dad here? And can you tell us who else is here, maybe family and friends who are supporting you?
TOM LEWIS: If I told you everyone that was here I would be here for a long night. I reckon there's about 30 people scattered around the room somewhere. My dad was probably too nervous to come today, so he's probably watching me on TV. He's not here, no. But hopefully he saw me on TV.

Q. Will he be here tomorrow?
TOM LEWIS: I don't think so. I think he's even more nervous now. (Laughter.)

Q. Before the event could you have imagined you could win The Open this week? And if you continue playing like that now, what do you think now?
TOM LEWIS: Obviously it's one day. I'm going to have to play just as well as I did today tomorrow. I'm sure I'm not going to shoot four 65s, and if I did, I will be winning. (Laughter.)
But I don't think that's going to be happening. I'm going to have tough moments tomorrow. So as long as I limit my mistakes and shoot 70 or below, then I'll be more than happy. But to shoot 65 today was excellent, but to then hold off the best players in the world is going to be even harder. I'm just going to focus on what I can do and then see what happens.

Q. I take it when you met Watson you told him that you were named after him. Did that come up?
TOM LEWIS: I think the public said that. I didn't say anything. I would have been more embarrassed to say that. I saw one person, and everyone was asking me about it.

Q. What's your plans professionally? I understand you're thinking about turning pro maybe after the Walker Cup. Is that kind of the gist of it?
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, yeah. It would be really nice to play Walker Cup coming to September, and hopefully I can perform well up until then to give me confidence for turning pro, and hopefully I can get a few invites and try and get my card. I'll just keep my head down and practise what I know, and hopefully it'll work.

Q. After his round Tom said, "I have to smile inside to watch him play." What do you think that would mean to your dad? And will you see your dad tonight?
TOM LEWIS: I'm going to stay away from him because I think they're going to be more excited than I am. So I'm going to keep my head down and have an early night.
But I'll probably get a phone call from my dad at some point. I think he'll be thrilled. Tom was a gentleman today. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. It was excellent. I'm going to have to do three more of them for him to really be impressed.

Q. Can I just clarify, did I hear correctly that you one-putted the first eight greens?
TOM LEWIS: Yeah (laughing). I remember holing my first putt on the 1st for par from about ten feet, and that was a great putt. And then I had a bit of a bad chip on 2 and an up-and-down, which was excellent and then made a birdie, and then missed more greens and up-and-downs, and then I started to realise I only had eight putts, so then I decided to two-putt the second.

Q. You mentioned you and your team, who else is working with you?
TOM LEWIS: I've got great help through the R & A and through the team around me like my dad, my coach Pete Cowen. Which my dad taught me all my life anyway up until Pete Cowen. And to have Pete's help and Steve MacGregor, who has given me a great training programme, the team around me, they all know who they are. I wouldn't mention who they are but they've done a great job with me, and I wouldn't have done it without them. But it's a long way to go, and this is only the first day.

Q. I'm curious, what kind of programme are you in that you've played all links golf this year except for one tournament? Is that typical for British amateurs or what?
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, obviously because England and Britain are famous for their links, I think the championships like taking it to the coast, so we're used to the wind. But the wind died today, this afternoon, and watching it on the TV this morning I didn't think scores would be as low as they are. But the wind dropped, and that was the opportunity to shoot a good score, and I'm thankful I did play well.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe even though you're amateur, you are a full-time golfer; you don't have a job to supplement yourself. But has it been hard financially and emotionally to get to this point?
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, I think my parents have sacrificed a lot for me to be here. I've had to have great support from brothers and sisters for a lot of money going into me. It's excellent, and without them, I wouldn't have had the opportunities I had. Hopefully their sacrifices will pay off long-term, but at this moment in time, sitting here, they have, and I've got a long way in my career and hopefully I can produce good golf, and if not, then they're still poor. (Laughter.)

Q. (Inaudible.)
TOM LEWIS: I think Tom was a bit earlier than my era, but knowing how famous and how good his golf is and how much of a gentleman he is, I think he'll be a hero to any golfer coming through. Obviously there's some great players out there, but people like Tom Watson will never be forgotten, and it's excellent to play with him today. He'll always be a hero in my eyes and everyone else's, and in more ways than one.

Q. What's your lowest score here at St. George's, and when did you shoot it?
TOM LEWIS: Today. I played match play here when I won the British Boys, and it was straight match play. I think the last time I did play here was the English Amateur in 2006, and I think I shot 6-over, so it was a bit of a difference today than then. But I think the rough was up, and it was a completely different task. And today there was no wind, so it was -- well, a little wind this afternoon, so that helped.

Q. Your caddie is an experienced guy out there. Can you tell us how he's on your bag and give us a line on what he did today.
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, Duncan today helped me loads. I got introduced through Pete Cowen, and the support around me, we got his phone number, and unfortunately Johan Edfors, who he caddies for regularly, didn't make it this week, but Johan was happy that he got a bag this week. I'm grateful that Johan was happy with that. Duncan did an excellent job today, so I thank him a lot.

Q. And just as a follow-up, what's Jack's golf like, your brother?
TOM LEWIS: Is he any good? No. (Laughter.) I think he's off about 7, so he can play. I'm sure he'll beat half the people in here. (Laughter.)

Q. Just going back to your round, fantastic round today. How did you feel after you dropped those couple of strokes?
TOM LEWIS: Obviously I was a bit disappointed. I hit not a great bunker shot on 11. I hit an okay tee shot but it wasn't as much wind as I thought, so I unfortunately finished in a bunker, and I left it on a slope, a bit like Henrik did on the 17th. I just don't know how it didn't come back, and I dropped a shot. I hit a great drive down 13, but it wasn't good enough, and finished in a bunker and had to chip out. So even though they were bogeys, they weren't terrible bogeys. I was still in control. And to birdie from 17 onwards was something I didn't really realise I was doing at the time, but I hit great shots and great putts, so it was excellent.

Q. Question about Tom Watson: What did you talk about with Tom during your round today?
TOM LEWIS: I just left Tom to it. I knew that he wanted to play his golf, and that's why he's here, to win. He proved two years ago that he could have won, and I just tried to get my head down and concentrate on what I needed to do. But he was very nice to me today, just talked about general things. He was really nice afterwards, so I couldn't really ask more from Tom.

Q. You'll wake up in a new world tomorrow where you're splattered all over TV and newspapers. Are you the sort of person who can shut that out and just go back to playing golf?
TOM LEWIS: Well, yeah, I'm not a great reader so I won't be reading any newspapers, and I'll try and keep the TV off. So I'm going to just take it as another day. Golf is a four-day event, and tomorrow is the most important day for me. Hopefully I can get into red figures again, and if not, then I won't be over the next day's newspapers. Hopefully I can be in there for the rest of the week, but if not, that means I've not performed to the standard I've wanted to tomorrow and the next days.

Q. Rory McIlroy finished low amateur 2007, played Walker Cup, turned pro, got his card, a few good things happened since. Is that sort of your ideal career path? Is he someone you look at and think, I can do that?
TOM LEWIS: Well, Rory is an excellent player. He's probably one of the best players -- well, he's definitely one of the best players out there at this moment in play. He's world No. 3, and he'll definitely get to world No. 1 at some stage in his career. Hopefully I can get to the same standard and have a few battles with him. That would be a dream. He's an excellent player, and I look up to him. I don't know what he finished on today, but I'm sure he won't be too far away coming into Sunday.
With an excellent ball-striking like he has, it'll be tough to hold him off. But that's what we play golf for is for the challenge, and hopefully I can come across and play with him sometime in my career or this year. That would be excellent.

Q. How old were you when you left school to concentrate on golf? And was that at all a difficult decision? Had there been things you felt like you have missed going this golf route?
TOM LEWIS: No, I didn't really enjoy school. I was dyslexic and I didn't really enjoy that side of it, so I was happy to leave when I was 16. But at first it was tough because you realise that you're not really going to speak to many people because your life is going to change a little bit, a bit like today, and hopefully true friends come out at the end of it. I'm just going to try and live as normal life as possible, but golf is my career and that's what I needed to do and work hard at. So hopefully I can carry on doing what I'm doing because it obviously seems to be working right today, and hopefully I can be playing tournaments for years to come.

Q. Many people would say your round today was something of a fairy tale, would you agree with that? And do you accept that it's sort of life changing as you hinted earlier?
TOM LEWIS: Well, yeah, it's obviously excellent to be at the top of the leaderboard, but Thomas Björn is at the top of the leaderboard, as well, and there's loads of people on 4-under, 3-under, so I'm only one shot above everyone else. If I was 10 ahead of everyone else, it would be a dream, but obviously I'm still going to have to play well. I played great today, and I'm not quite in the lead. There's still someone there at the same score.
So hopefully I can carry on doing what I'm doing, and hopefully it'll work by the end of the week. But obviously I'm an amateur, so I'm going to make some bad mistakes out there, so I hope I can just limit them. It's only one day, so I'm going to have to play really well tomorrow, and then if I make the cut, then play really well the next day and then really well again. But even then, I'm still probably not going to be in the lead. There's always going to be players up there, the best players in the world. I'm just going to have to do as well as I possibly can and hit it like I did today, and I'll be okay.

Q. Standing over the putt on 17, were you actually thinking, this is to lead The Open? And if not, when was the moment when you realised?
TOM LEWIS: I was playing very well, and I was pretty nervous all the way around. But because I was nervous, I just didn't use my hand as much as possible. I felt like that putt was really holeable, and I felt like if I could get it to the hole, no matter how softly I hit it, so I hit it pretty softly, and it was just enough. It was an excellent putt.
Like I said earlier, I looked over it and realised I was on the screen, and that's probably when I realised I was playing well. But like I said, I'm going to need to hole a lot more putts this week to challenge at the top of the leaderboard. But I'll be happy just to make the cut and be leading amateur, never mind the top of the leaderboard.

Q. Do you have any heroes from other sports or in life who have inspired you at all?
TOM LEWIS: Yeah, there's loads of people out there that inspire you, people that you probably don't know of in life. There's always things that you can respect about people no matter if they're famous or not famous. Obviously there's a lot of people out there that I look up to and hopefully just have as much qualities as them. I couldn't name you anyone. There's people out there that are more influential than anyone. I see myself as looking up to everyone because you've got to respect everyone you possibly come across in the world, no matter who they are. Obviously people that are famous are -- have responsibilities, and it's going to be a hard life. Sitting here is tough, as much as it might sound. It's difficult. I'm nervous. I've never been in front of this many people before. I respect everyone that tries, and that's all that matters.

Q. There's no one single big influence, one figure?
TOM LEWIS: You can name dozens. Rory at the moment is top of the news, and to look up to him as one of the best players in the world is great. Then you've got to respect Tiger Woods for what he's done in the game. You've got to look at Tom Watson for what he's done. And people outside of golf, David Beckham, what he's done for football and for England. He was one of my heroes as a football player. I could name loads, but I'd be here all night.

Q. This is going to sound very cheesy, but why David Beckham in particular?
TOM LEWIS: Nick Faldo has won six majors. I would love to win seven because I'm from the same golf club as him and it would be great to go down as the best player from the club, but I've got a long way to go.
David always used to wear 7 and I loved the way he played football, and I just loved to replicate it. So that's probably why. And he's got cool hair. (Laughter.)

Q. There's £900,000 for the winner, as long as it's a professional --
TOM LEWIS: I can't win that.

Q. Have any of your friends or family stuck a few quid on you this week to try and get some money back for the clan?
TOM LEWIS: I don't know. I didn't ask that but a lot of people have come up and said they put it on each way. If I don't do that, I've got to pay everyone up for the people that have put money into me.

Q. Sometimes you hear about dads sticking money on their kids that they'll win The Open one day. You're not aware of that happening?
TOM LEWIS: Not that I know of. Not that I know of.
LYNN WALLACE: Thanks for joining us, Tom. Good luck.

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