England's Tom Lewis has been to some dark places in recent years, but now he's within touching distance of a Masters debut
At certain points in his career huge things have been expected of Tom Lewis. Ten years ago he won the Boys Amateur at Royal St George’s, beating Eddie Pepperell in the final, and just two years later, at the same course, he shared the first-round lead in the Open itself.
He did it playing alongside Tom Watson, the player he was named after.
Then there was the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen where Nigel Edwards’ side took down the likes of Jordan Spieth and Patricks Cantlay and Rogers. Come the end of 2011 he had turned pro and was already a winner on the European Tour.
Spieth followed him down the professional path a year later and now has three majors, the first of which was a Green Jacket.
Lewis has now just turned 29 but is yet to play in the Masters. It might be a reduced field and the golden ticket in the game but you would have expected a player of Lewis’s potential to have made his way up Magnolia Lane by now.
In all the chat of good ball strikers and the next big thing Lewis’s name has often been put forward by his peers – as in, the ones who really know – but, in among it all, there has been a battle with the chipping yips that became so chronic the dropped No. 728 in the world rankings.
Now Lewis has finally breached the top 50, a run that began with two wins in three weeks on the Challenge and European Tours in 2018 and culminated with a tied-3rd in Dubai via winning the Korn Ferry Tour Championship in the US. Meanwhile, Spieth has slipped outside it the elite for the first time in six and a half years.
If Lewis can stay inside the 50 the week before Augusta then, finally, he’s in.
“I really don’t know how the world rankings work,” he admitted after the Dubai Desert Classic. “I just know that it would be lovely to go to the Masters.
“To keep missing out on that every year, especially with the start of the career I’ve had… I’ve never been there, and hopefully I can keep playing well, play well next week and see what happens over in America, try to get into some events, maybe they will let me play a few, and maybe I can get in the Masters.”
Lewis’s five-shot win in the Korn Ferry Tour finale, despite having never played on the developmental tour, earned him his PGA Tour card. So, from having played in a dozen events on the Challenge Tour as recently as 18 months ago, Lewis now has cards on both the main tours.
The plan at the end of last year was to get these opening events done on the European Tour and then head across the Atlantic.
“It is difficult to play both tours so I’m going to take my opportunities when I can,” he explained. “I’ll play the desert in January and then go across to America for a few months. It’s going to be busy. Being able to juggle over in the US and then here in Europe.
“Hopefully I can manage it well, do the right things, treat every week as the same week as ever and hopefully get a few wins maybe both sides of the pond.”