Defending champion Lewis looks to end sophomore slump


One year ago, Tom Lewis unofficially announced his arrival on the European Tour. While earlier in the summer of 2011 he grabbed headlines with a first-round 65 at the British Open as an amateur, his Sunday 65 in last year's Portugal Masters ultimately had a greater impact.

That bogey-free final round helped the young Englishman erase a four-shot deficit and overtake Rafael Cabrera-Bello for his first career European Tour win in only his third start since turning professional.

While this maiden victory seemed to signal the beginning of a long and successful career, Lewis, 21, has spent much of this season mired in a sophomore slump. By his own admission, 2012 has been a struggle.

'I haven't been playing the way I would have wanted after last year's win,' Lewis explained as he prepared to defend his title at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course.

Named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year in 2011, Lewis has made only six cuts in 19 stroke play events this year on the European Tour. The only time he has played the weekend in his last nine starts was at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, an event without a 36-hole cut in which he finished 74th among a field of 78 players.

'Everything changed for me after playing well in The Open and then winning the Portugal Masters,' Lewis noted. 'I tried to keep things normal and didn't want things to change, but inevitably things do change.'

Returning to the site of his greatest triumph to date, Lewis hopes that some positive memories will help spark a return to form.

'I still remember some of the shots I hit on certain holes,' he commented. 'It's always nice to have those feelings, and hopefully I'll play well again here.'