SIMON DYSON is among a healthy contingent of Open Championship contenders chasing a leading pair that, in many respects, combines golfing past with the sport's future at Royal St George's.

Dyson, of Malton & Norton Golf Club, stunningly defeated the early testing conditions at the Sandwich links course to post a 68, two under, that left him three shy of playing partner Thomas Bjorn.

But while most of the day was spent reflecting on the performance of Bjorn, who infamously blew his previous big chance for the Claret Jug here in 2003, it ended with the world marvelling at young amateur Tom Lewis.

Lewis, 20, is expected to follow in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy in the not too distant future and yesterday he showed why with a display of maturity and golfing excellence on the Kent links course.

It was at Royal St George's where he won the British Boys Championship two years ago and, even though the early testing conditions that caused problems had eased, he reproduced that sort of title-winning form yesterday.

He birdied 15, 16 and 17 to climb level with Bjorn before heading in to face a packed press conference for the first time.

Unfazed, he revealed how his former European Tour pro father, Brian, had named him after playing partner Tom Watson and explained how he was relieved to have left school at 16 following years battling with dyslexia.

"My dad also named my younger brother Jack, so you can imagine who he was named after (Nicklaus)," said Lewis, who has become the first amateur since 1968 to lead the Open. "You can imagine how special it was for me and my family that I went round with Tom."

Lewis is from the same Welwyn Garden City club where Nick Faldo also learned to play the game - and after one-putting the first eight greens there was more than enough evidence to suggest this was no flash in the pan.

"I am not going to shoot four 65s and I'm an amateur so I will have my moments," said Lewis, who revealed among his heroes are McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Watson and David Beckham.

"I just have to try to limit my mistakes and shoot 70 or better tomorrow and over the next few rounds. I have to just focus and we will go from there."

While management groups have jostled for the signature of hot prospect Lewis, his co-leader is beyond that. Bjorn has been there, but he has never been able to buy the major winner t-shirt.

The 40-year-old's best chance arrived on these fairways eight years ago, when he threw away away a three-shot lead by landing in the bunker at the 163-yard 16th. American Ben Curtis went on to win the play-off.

On his first return since, Bjorn's nine iron from the tee landed 8ft from the hole and, after nailing the birdie putt, it helped him set the pace with the first 65 of the day.

"It was eight years ago. A lot of people have asked me what I feel about 2003. It's in the past," said Bjorn, called up as a replacement for the injured Vijay Singh.

"I thought I was going to struggle to carry that bunker even today. I even thought when I hit it, this is going to struggle. It just did and rolled down nicely. I'm very delighted with this round."

Dyson was also superb. He was flawless through 17 holes, making birdie at six, 16 and 17, before failing to make par at the last when the heavens opened above.

"I played nicely and it keeps it going when you can get a good card," said the 33-year-old. "To keep it going was nice. I will be looking to do the same again. It's the best tournament in the world."

Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lucas Glover and Webb Simpson (all 66) stand between the leaders and Dyson's pack that sit on two under, which also includes German Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

Hartlepool's Graeme Storm remains nicely placed after confidently shooting level par in typical links conditions early on, while Kenneth Ferrie sits on one over along with pre-tournament favourites Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.