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British Open Day 1: Bjorn Again & Amateur Lewis

The first round of the British Open was an occasion to gladden the heart of both young and old with two stories straight out of a fairy tale at Royal St. George’s on Thursday.

Two of the most unlikely men finished opening day on top of the leader board as Tom Lewis, a 20-year-old amateur from Welwyn (a small town north of London), and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, a veteran of the circuit and twice Lewis’ age, shot a five-under-par 65.

First there was the continuing ballad of Bjorn. Out-of-form Thomas Bjorn is known here in these parts of south-east England but for reasons he’d sooner have forgotten.

The last time the Dane was on the course of Royal St George’s in 2003 he squandered a three-shot lead with four holes to play and lost the title that had been within his grasp.

His first time back at this course since his meltdown eight years ago was far more redemptive.

Starting in the early morning he soared to the top of the leader board, making back-to-back birdies and a par-3 16th, a lead he would maintain until Tom Lewis joined him later in the day.

In the last few years, Bjorn has had to deal with problems outside of the sport and just two months ago he was struck by personal tragedy: his father passing away in May from lung disease.

“He meant a lot to me,” Bjorn said, with tears in his eyes. “He would have been very proud of what I did today.”

Brian Lewis would have been beaming with pride regardless of the result as his son took to the course alongside legendary player Tom Watson, the man his father named him after.

Tom Lewis then proceeded to go further than even his old man’s pride would have let him believe.

He birdied five holes in a row – from the 13th to the 17th – and ended with a par at the 18th matching Bjorn’s 65 and becoming the first amateur to lead the British Open since Michael Bonallack in 1968.

““Obviously, it’s one day,” Lewis said. “I’m going to have to play just as well as I did today tomorrow. I’m sure I’m not going to shoot four 65s.”

Neither Bjorn nor Lewis are carried away by their performances, and as Lewis said: Obviously, it’s one day.

 But for one young man making his big step into the golfing limelight and another standing up in the face of incredible adversity, day one saw dramatic performances that have set the standard for the next three rounds of this illustrious tournament.

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