Having experienced something of a trough since winning his debut European Tour title 12 months ago, England’s Tom Lewis is hoping a return to the Algarve will help him peak again as he bids to become the first player to mount a successful defence of the Portugal Masters title.
Lewis was followed into the interview room on Wednesday afternoon by Padraig Harrington, who had his own philosophical take on the various vicissitudes of life as a professional golfer, and the fleeting nature of that most elusive of qualities – confidence.
But if form is temporary and class permanent, Lewis can be expected to turn the corner as swiftly as he rose to prominence in a 2011 season which culminated in his being named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
This year, he has been afflicted by the ‘second season syndrome’, but the 21 year old drew on some very happy memories of his breakthrough win last year over the course of the Pro-Am at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course.
He said: “I haven’t been playing the way I would’ve wanted after last year’s win, but coming back here, I still remember some shots I hit on certain holes. It’s always nice to have those feelings, and hopefully I’ll play well again here.
“It doesn’t feel like a year has gone by. Everything went so fast, and when you travel every week even more. It feels like I was sitting in this room with the trophy in front of me only two or three months ago.
“Everything changed for me after playing well in The Open and then winning the Portugal Masters. I tried to keep things normal and didn’t want thing to change, but inevitably things do change. So it’s important to have a good team around me, plus the support of my friends and family, because they help me to deal with it all.”
Harrington is well placed to give advice to his younger stablemate, having rediscovered some of his best form this term after a period in the doldrums in the immediate aftermath of his record-breaking season in 2008.
Harrington is currently 29th in the Race to Dubai, and the Irishman is convinced he is on the verge of sealing a first victory on The European Tour since his 2008 US PGA Championship triumph.
Harrington said: “I’m probably fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been. I now hit the ball further than at any stage of my professional career. So there’s nothing in my head that says I’m not going to be a better player next year than I was last year.
“Winning those three Majors was obviously the peak of my career so far, but you can’t peak all the time. You just can’t. So you have to step back from it and hopefully you’ll come back and peak again.
“Hopefully that means you get better over time, so that the peaks come around more often and the troughs are not as deep, and you’re generally improving. I truly believe I’m going to get back to that level and win more Majors in the future – there’s no doubt in my mind about that.”