Lewis eyes East London success

  • Last Updated: February 13 2013, 15:35 GMT

If ever there was a chance for England's Tom Lewis to re-ignite his European Tour career then this week's Africa Open is surely it.

Tom Lewis: Ready to make his mark

The 22-year-old from Welwyn Garden, who shot to fame by leading the 2011 Open Championship and then winning just his third event as a professional, did not manage a single top 10 finish in 28 stroke play events last season.

But Lewis has made the halfway cut in his first four starts of this season and, although his world ranking has dropped to 297th, the line-up in East London is hardly star-studded.

Louis Oosthuizen was the winner on the course the last two years and before that it was Charl Schwartzel, but the moving of the event to the week before the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona means that not one of South Africa's top eight players - Oosthuizen, Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, George Coetzee, last week's Joburg Open winner Richard Sterne, Tim Clark and Retief Goosen - is in the field this time.

At 97th in the world Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed is the highest ranked player on view, although the favourite is South African Thomas Aiken after he shot back-to-back 66s at the weekend for a share of sixth place behind runaway champion Sterne.

Perhaps the player with the most confidence, though, is Portugal's Ricardo Santos.

The 30-year-old came fourth in Abu Dhabi last month and has followed that up with finishes of seventh in Dubai and then joint third at the Joburg Open, where he closed with a 64.

The fact that last year's Abu Dhabi winner Robert Rock is also playing is a stark reminder of what a disappointing 12 months it has been for him.

Last February Rock, having beaten Tiger Woods head-to-head in the Middle East, was getting ready for a Match Play debut that would see him knock out world number eight Adam Scott, but he is now back outside the game's top 100.

Lewis plays the first two rounds with South African Trevor Fisher Jnr, who is determined to hit straight back from Sunday's disappointing 73 after he went into the final round co-leader with Sterne and then eagled the first.

"I've been knocking for a long while now, but I finally believe that I can win a European Tour title," he told the Tour website.

"I wasn't hitting it that well on Sunday, but I kept myself in contention. It's a big thing to realise that even when your game isn't at its best you still have the goods to compete at the top level.

"The experience has really given me a sense of purpose. I'm hungry to win."

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