Lali Stander – PORT ELIZABETH, 24 February 2017 – Louis Oosthuizen Junior Academy prodigy Christo Lamprecht produced a career-defining performance at Humewood Golf Club to become the youngest Sanlam South African Amateur champion in the 110-year history of the premier international championship on Friday.
At 16 years and 25 days, the Southern Cape teenager surpassed the record set by Thriston Lawrence in 2013 (16 years, two months and 23 days old) when he defeated fellow George golfer Caylum Boon 7 & 6 in the 36-final.
“This is all a little unreal right now,” gushed the delighted Pinnacle Point golfer.
“I got knocked out in the first round in my first SA Amateur last year and I just wanted to try and go this week. Now I am the winner and the youngest champion, too. I didn’t know about the record. I can’t even describe how I feel; it’s like shock and joy and a whole bunch of stuff mixed up. This is huge, really huge.”
Lamprecht showed maturity beyond his years and the composure of a true champion as he plotted his way into the final, never trailing in a single match after he qualified for the match play stage.
He knocked out Loris Schuepbah from Switzerland in round one, Andre Nel in the second round and Garrick Higgo in round three, as well as in Thursday’s quarter-final victory against Yashas Chandra from the Indian Golf Union’s Gentlemen Squad and the semi-final win against Dylan Kok.
The final match against Boon was no different, as he executed a proven game plan to take control. “My game plan in all my matches was to keep the ball in play and to try to take the lead as early as possible,” said Lamprecht, who opened with six straight pars on the final day.
“I wanted to put my opponent on the back foot so they wouldn’t get comfortable. That strategy worked well for me right throughout the match play, so I stuck to my game plan against Caylum. If you can keep the ball in play at Humewood, you give yourself chances to score.”
Aside from the ninth hole in the 18 holes and the seventh during the final loop, Lamprecht hit every fairway and used a red-hot putter to protect his advantage.
He went 1-up when Boon dropped at the second hole and went 3-up with back-to-back birdies at seven and eight. He paid the penalty of a wayward tee shot at nine, but a birdie at 11 and four successive gains from 16 took him to into the final 18 holes with a 4-up lead.
“Caylum matched my birdies at 16, 17 and 18 and he was playing really well,” said the GolfRSA National Squad player. “I knew I would have to keep up the pressure when we started the last 18 holes. I went 5-up with a birdie at three (21st hole) and I was 6-up when Caylum bogeyed the next hole. Then I hit my tee shot into the bushes on the right at seven and that cost me a shot.”
Boon found trouble down the left at eighth (26th hole) and Lamprecht pounced to go 6-up.
He only needed four more holes to wrap up the final after Boon dropped another shot at the 10th (28th hole). Although Boon matched Lamprecht’s birdie at the 11th (29th hole), the writing was on the wall when the Southern Cape golfer hit his tee shot to a foot at the par three 12th and boxed the birdie putt to win.
The young golfer had a hard time containing his smile as he battled to lift the 45kg trophy.
“I just hoped to gain some good experience this week and if I did well, it would have been a bonus,” he said.
“I knew what I had to do to give myself a chance, especially when we played in a four-club wind in the quarterfinals and semi-finals and I’m proud of how I was able to stay calm and keep my head in the game. I never got ahead of myself and I think the first time I thought I could actually win this was when we got though nine on the second trip.
“It’s incredible to thin that my name is going on this trophy. All the Major winners are there. Bobby Locke is there. Ernie Els. Retief Goosen. Trevor Immelman. Gosh, I just realised Louis (Oosthuizen) never won the Sanlam SA Amateur. I hope he is really proud of me.”
Lamprecht won’t have much time to celebrate his remarkable feat, though.
On Tuesday, the country’s top-ranked junior will don the green and gold for the first time alongside Higgo, Luca Filippi and Jayden Schaper to represent the South African Junior team in the Team Competition at the international African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek.