Open Silver Medallist secures maiden professional victory on third attempt

Open Championship Silver Medallist Tom Lewis has won his maiden title at the Portugal Masters, in only his third professional start.

The 20-year-old, who was a member of the victorious GB&I Walker Cup team at Royal Aberdeen just five weeks ago, birdied five of his last seven holes to take the title and secure his tour card for the next two years.

Lewis, who entered the closing stretch down in seventh spot, shot a closing 65 to finish with a 21-under-par 267 to beat a field that included Major winner Martin Kaymer and R&A-Working for Golf Ambassador Padraig Harrington.

A delighted Lewis said: "I've not thought about the money - I was thinking about winning.

“I've got a long way to go. I'm nowhere near the player I want to be, so I'll put this win behind me at the end of the year and start fresh next year.

"I would not have expected this at all. I was really dreading going to the Qualifying School at the end of the year, but it looks like I've skipped that."

Lewis two-putted the long 12th and then carded four more birdies in a row from the 14th. After a steady par on the challenging closing hole he had to endure an hour-long wait in the clubhouse before his two-shot victory over Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello was confirmed.

In comparison, Tiger Woods needed five tournaments to land his first professional title and McIlroy did not win on the European Tour until his 38th attempt.

Lewis announced himself on the world stage at Royal St George’s in July by becoming the first amateur in more than 40 years to lead The Open after an opening round of 65. He eventually finished in a tie for 30th and was awarded the Silver Medal for low amateur.

However, the Welwyn Garden City-based player’s professional career was far from assured as he entered the week 234th on the European Tour money list and 631st in the world. But his win means that he no longer faces the prospect of a trip to Tour school in December and can start making plans with his playing rights assured until the end of 2013.