British youngster Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters Sunday to earn a European Tour exemption in only his third event as a professional.
Lewis, 20, produced an exhilarating final round of 65, the same score he shot to share the first-round lead at this year's British Open, for a total of 267, two strokes better than Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
After beginning the final round four strokes off the pace there were no early signs Lewis would pull off such a memorable success.
But a blistering run of four successive birdies from the 14th, including a stunning 30-foot putt on the short 16th that took him to the top of the leaderboard, earned him the $550,000 first prize.
Lewis's achievement of winning third time out as a professional equaled the 2007 feat of world number three and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy. Former world number one Tiger Woods won his fifth professional tournament.
There were some really great players here this week so to come out on top so early in my career, is beyond my dreams, Lewis told reporters.
And to do what Rory did is especially pleasing. Rory's a great player and I'd love to be like him one day.
I came here determined to avoid going to tour school -- I was thrilled when George O'Grady (European Tour chief executive) came over to me and said: 'Welcome to the European Tour'.
Lewis rose to prominence when he tied for the British Open first-round lead at Royal St George's before finishing 30th to earn the silver medal for top amateur.
He was then part of the triumphant Britain and Ireland team that regained the Walker Cup from America last month before turning professional.
He finished 10th in his first event, the Austrian Open, followed by a lowly 70th in the Dunhill Links Championship.
This week, though, Lewis showed his potential by shooting a scintillating 64 in the second round, leaving players like world number six Martin Kaymer and triple major champion Padraig Harrington in his wake.
Cabrera-Bello, leading by a stroke overnight, was just one of several players to head the leaderboard, but a double-bogey on the long 12th when he found the lake, ended his chances of a second tour title.
Frenchman Gregory Havret, Briton David Lynn, South Africa's George Coetzee, Chilean Felipe Aguilar and Sweden's Christian Nilsson tied for third place on.
Kaymer (66) was disappointed to finish only tied eighth, four strokes adrift of Lewis.
The German is taking a week off now to prepare for a final push to enhance his outside chance of retaining his European number one title.
I made bogeys every day that ruined my chances of winning and getting closer to Luke (Race to Dubai leader Luke Donald), Kaymer told Reuters. I left a good few shots out there this week.
I have five tournaments left and the only way to prepare for them properly is to practise and work on my game -- instead of facing media and other responsibilities next week at a tournament.