SANDWICH, England (AP) — Eighteen holes with Phil Mickelson were enough to convince Tom Lewis that he wasn’t ready to turn professional just yet.
Lewis announced himself to the world with a stunning 65 in the first round of the British Open, earning the 20-year-old English amateur a shock share of lead and turning him into an overnight sensation.
His family and girlfriend were suddenly in the British press. Agencies were reportedly lining up for him. The sky was the limit for the kid named after Tom Watson, with whom he played his first two rounds.
Then one round with Mickelson on Saturday, when Lewis shot a 76 in heavy rain and wind, brought him back to reality.
“Playing with Phil made me feel terrible, really terrible around the greens. If you’re going to play with the best players in the world, you have to chip and putt like they do,” Lewis said.
“I’m pretty glad I played with him.”
Still, Lewis hasn’t done too bad this week.
A closing round of 4-over 74 on Sunday helped win him the silver medal for the leading amateur finisher at the British Open. He was three shots ahead of 21-year-old American Peter Uihlein, the only other amateur left in the field.
There was speculation that Lewis was planning to drop his amateur status and immediately become professional.
But the round with Mickelson and a word in his ear from the Royal & Ancient, the overseers of the amateur game, means he will delay that move until probably after the Walker Cup in Scotland in September.
Instead of playing in the Scandinavian Masters next week, he will practice with his Britain and Ireland teammates in Aberdeen.
It’ll be comedown after his exploits at Royal St. George’s.
“I don’t think I’ll be turning pro,” he said. “I’ve still got things to learn as I’ve just lost by about 20 shots this week. It’s a bit disappointing that I’m not allowed to play next week but if I’m going to stay an amateur, then I’ve got to do what the amateurs do.”
After turing pro, Lewis likely will be given invitations to seven tournaments before the end of the season to give him a chance to win his European Tour card. That’s not a long time, but it’s been done.
“Rory McIlroy did it in 2007, so there is time of you’re good enough,” Lewis said.
Comparisons with McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion, are to be expected after what Lewis has gone through at the British Open. Playing with Watson in the first two rounds will have given him valuable experience.
“I loved this week and I won’t forget what I did on the first day,” said Lewis, the second-highest Englishman on the leaderboard after Simon Dyson. “It was a shame the last three days … but to win the silver medal is a great honor.
“Unfortunately I slipped back and Tom (Watson) is out there beating me. It shows you that experience beats youth. Hopefully, I can learn from him like I did those two days.”