ABU DHABI // Tom Lewis and Chris Lloyd are considered the front-runners for glory in the Abu Dhabi Junior Championship over the next three days at the National Course. Lewis, 18, is the only player to hold the English Boys' and British Boys' title at the same time while Lloyd, 17, can point to a stunning triumph in the competitive Henry Cooper junior event which he won with an outstanding score of 23-under par.
They are among 12 teenagers seeking to be crowned the latest winner of the world's biggest junior tournament which has been presented by the Daily Telegraph since 1985. The line-up includes UAE resident Joele Neale, who earned his place by winning a new local heat competition on the same course a month ago. Lewis, from King's Lynn in England, has been a scratch golfer since he was 14 and now plays off a handicap of plus four.
He is determined to add this title to his collection of honours on the way to fulfilling his first career ambition to make the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Team Trophy international teams. After that he hopes to join the professional ranks, as does his rival Lloyd, who has improved his handicap to plus three in the three years since he also became a scratch player. "My game is not quite on the ball at the moment but sometimes that's a good thing as it sharpens your focus," said Lewis.
"If I play well then I'm going to have a good week. If I don't I'm going to have to grind it out a bit. I am sure that I will be in with a chance going into the last round unless I do something dramatically bad." The girls' line-up of nine players is headed by Heidi Baek, 16, who plays of plus two. Her strongest challenge is likely to come from last year's runner-up Alexandra Peters and Holly Clyburn who play off the same handicap.