Lewis launched himself into the limelight when, aged 20, he landed a fairytale victory at the Portugal Masters, just three months after carding the lowest ever round by an amateur at The 2011 Open Championship - a five under par first round 65 which handed him a share of the overnight lead.The 22 year old makes his Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI debut this week at Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra and he is enjoying being back on Portuguese soil.
“It’s my first time here and it’s a really nice place,” said the 2011 Walker Cup winner. “My family are out and it’s a lovely place to come so I'm looking forward to it and hopefully the weather will hold out for the week.“A lot of players have had success in certain areas and I love Europe, personally. There are a lot of different culture changes in certain tournaments on The European Tour but in Europe the atmosphere is great, especially in places like Portugal – you get really nice people and lovely food and I feel comfortable with everything.
“It feels quite a long way from Portugal mainland but it is beautiful here, the views are incredible. The course is lovely, even if it doesn’t quite suit my game.”Lewis arrives in Madeira on the back of three consecutive missed cuts but he believes he is at a crucial juncture in his career, where hard work and determination are imperative if he is to repeat the success of the 2011 Portugal Masters.
“I’m not unhappy with where I am at the moment,” he said. “It has been a steep learning curve for me since 2011. Most people usually come up to The European Tour in stages and then when they’re ready, they make the step up.“For me, I was just lucky that I played well in that one week and got that first win so early. I played well through all four rounds and I haven’t done that quite as well since.
“If you look at my scores though, I have played well in a lot of first and second rounds but then my scores have been weaker as the week goes on. That’s the area of my game that I need to improve.“I would obviously have loved to have done better recently but I think the cream always rises to the top and I think that will happen with me when it’s the right time. Whether it’s this year, next year or in a few years’ time, I know when I do get there I won’t have any problem.
“The hard work is now and I need to get my head down and if I work harder than everyone else then the results will come and if I don’t I won’t be able to compete.“I am confident this week. My putting is coming along and if I hole my putts this week I’ll have a chance but if I don’t I won’t. My long game is never going to be terrible and if I get a chance to win I think I will, so I just need to give myself the opportunity.”
Ricardo Santos, meanwhile, will defend the title he won last year, a victory which helped earn him the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award.The Vilamoura native became the first Portuguese to win on home soil and is sure to receive a hero’s reception on his return this year.
Tano Goya (2009), Alastair Forsyth (2008), Daniel Vancsik (2007), Robert-Jan Derksen (2005), Bradley Dredge (2003), Niclas Fasth (2000), Jarmo Sandelin (1996) and Santiago Luna (1995) are the other former champions who will be looking to add to their trophy haul at Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra.Former Ryder Cup players in the field include Frenchman Thomas Levet, Denmark’s Søren Hansen and Oliver Wilson of England, while multiple European Tour winners Nick Dougherty, Robert Rock and Grégory Bourdy will also feature.