Lewis, aided by Harmon, faces tough task in Scotland to get into British

Tom Lewis
Getty Images
Tom Lewis says instructor Butch Harmon is getting him to shorten his backswing so that he could have more control.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | 12:58 p.m.

INVERNESS, Scotland -- There is one last chance this week for young Tom Lewis to book himself a return to the British Open, but even he admits it is a tall order.

The 21-year-old needs a top-5 finish in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart this week, and he has missed five of his last six halfway cuts.

Not only that, but Lewis is up against a line-up that includes world No. 1 Luke Donald, four-time major winner Phil Mickelson, three-time major winners Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els and two more former Open champions in Paul Lawrie and Louis Oosthuizen.

"It's asking a lot, but we will see," said Lewis, whose recent problems led him to pull out of the Irish Open and instead fly to Las Vegas to see Mickelson's coach Butch Harmon.

This time last year, of course, Lewis was just about to become the talk of golf. An opening 65 at Royal St George's not only gave him a share of the Open lead with Thomas Bjorn, but was the lowest-ever round by an amateur in Open history.

This week's tournament should bring back a good memory, too. It was just around the coast at Royal Aberdeen that he helped Britain and Ireland pull off an unexpected victory over the Americans in the Walker Cup.

Just a month after that, Lewis won the Portugal Masters in only his third start as a professional, but he has been reminded since that the road to the top has some potholes in it.

Harmon's focus on meeting the youngster for the first time two weeks ago was on getting him to shorten his backswing so that he could have more control. That explained the contraption Lewis had strapped to his right arm on the practice range, although it did allow him to joke with anybody asking about it that he had broken his arm in four places.

"Before I used my hands a lot and I was convincing myself I was hitting it well, whereas I was actually timing it well," Lewis explained. "All my life I haven't been very consistent -- I haven't been able to have four good rounds.

"It's always difficult to know, but hopefully the stuff I'm now working on will make me more consistent through the rest of my career," he added. "He's a clever man. What he saw has been happening for a long time, but it's just little tweaks to my swing. Simple stuff, not complicated.

"Hopefully my confidence will come back with it. I've been quite good at learning and changing stuff in the past and I don't feel it will take me long before I see some big improvements," he said. "Once I shoot one low round, I feel I'll be in the zone again. I'm a bit distant from where I was, but I think this knockback has been good for me."