By Andy Farrell, Special to PGA.com
SANDWICH, England -- All the talk was of how Tom Lewis's life will change.
But after the collecting the silver medal as the leading amateur at the 140th Open Championship, the 20-year-old from Welwyn Garden City revealed that it will not be changing much in the near future. This week he will attend a training session at Royal Aberdeen for the Walker Cup team.
There had been thoughts of turning professional straight away but it is back to the original plan of playing against the Americans in September.
"I don't think I'll be turning pro right away," Lewis said. "I think I've got things still to learn, since I've just lost by about 20 strokes this week. But I will sit down with my team and work out what is best for my future."
Playing with Phil Mickelson on Saturday was an eye-opener.
"I'm ready in certain areas but playing with Phil made me feel 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. I've just got to keep grinding away."
Lewis should not be too hard on himself, since even the best players cannot compare their short games with Mickelson, whose brilliance produced an outward 30 on Sunday to threaten Darren Clarke's title charge.
On Thursday, Lewis became the first amateur for 43 years to share the lead in the Open after his superb 65 playing alongside his father's hero, Tom Watson. Peter Uihlein, the U.S. Amateur champion, was Lewis's competitor for amateur honors at Royal St. George's yesterday. Uihlein ended with a 75 to be 12-over par which meant that Lewis could afford a triple-bogey eight at the 14th and still finish in front of the American. A 74 left him at 9-over par.
Lewis hit his second shot out of bounds at the 14th and then ended up in a bunker with his second ball. But that moment aside, he again added to the great memories he will take away of his first appearance in the Open. There was a 35-footer that went in for an eagle at the seventh and a wonderful approach shot at the 18th which prompted another rousing ovation as he walked up into the amphitheatre at the final green.
"The Open has been amazing for me," said Lewis. "The first day was wonderful. I couldn't have asked for more. It was a shame the last three days I haven't played anywhere near as good as I had hoped but to win the silver medal is a great honor."
Lewis joined a mighty list of former winners, including Jose Maria Olazabal and Hal Sutton from Royal St. George's, and more recently Tiger Woods in 1996, Justin Rose in '98 and Rory McIlroy in 2007.
Rose, as a 17-year-old followed his glorious Birkdale performance with an appearance at the Dutch Open the following week amid great media interest. He only just missed the cut by one but it took another 22 attempts before he reached the weekend of a professional event. Rose is now a respected Ryder Cup player but Lewis may follow the McIlroy model, waiting to play in the Walker Cup and then hoping to earn enough from a handful of invitations to make his card for the European tour.
Lewis has already exhibited a highly professional attitude in his approach to the game but his standards are high. However, Lewis did indicate that if it was not for the Walker Cup, he would have no hesitation in stepping out on tour.
He had been hoping to accept an invitation to the Scandinavian Masters in Sweden this week whether he turned professional or stayed amateur. But when he spoke to the Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards, he was persuaded that it should be business as usual in joining his teammates in Aberdeen.
"It shows that the Walker Cup means a lot for an amateur to make this decision. When I spoke to the captain, he said he really needed me there next week. Other players have turned down invites on the Challenge Tour to be there and it's a bit wrong of me not to be there, too. It's disappointing I'm not allowed to play in Sweden but if I'm going to stay an amateur, then I've got to do what the amateurs do."
There is plenty of time for Lewis to achieve many things as a professional, perhaps following in the footsteps of another Welwyn boy, Sir Nick Faldo, or the players he joined at the presentation ceremony on the 18th green, new champion Darren Clarke, and runners-up Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
We will be seeing more of him.