SA’s Lamprecht survives Open baptism of fire

21 July 2023 – After the first two rounds of the 151st Open Championship, reigning Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht must have walked off the Royal Liverpool course thinking “what the heck just happened?”

Co-leader on day one, then fighting for survival on day two. Talk about a baptism of fire.

After dropping five shots in his first seven holes, back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th left him with his back against the wall and fighting to stay inside the projected cutline. A bogey finish left the 22-year-old GolfRSA National Squad member and his fan club on tenterhooks, and it was only about an hour before play wrapped up that everyone could exhale.

Not quite hero to zero, but almost. The South African didn’t last long at the top, but here’s the silver lining: when you hit rock-bottom, the only way to go is up.

In the first round, Lamprecht hit a number of wayward drives, but he impressed with a stunning short game and an uncanny ability to play himself out of trouble. Just recall that insane bunker shot on the fourth that went viral, or that exquisite chip shot for birdie on the 14th.

In the second, he couldn’t conjure up the magic that enthralled the crowds and counter the errant tee shots. Truth be told, some shots saw us cringe and look away in the same way we look away during a horror flick, hoping something good will happen before we look back.

There were a few less stessful holes when Lamprecht ran up five pars between the 13th and the 17th holes, but when he leaked his tee shot into the left rough on the 18th, and his second followed suit and landed in the semi-rough in front of the grand stand, you kind of knew here we go again.

They say the tallest trees catches the most wind. Lamprecht – the tallest man in the field this year at 6-ft 8 (2.3m) – set the clubhouse target on the sunny, windless first day and ended up co-leading the field. But on a blustery day two, it was the shortest man in the field – Brian Harman at 5-ft 7 (1.7m) – who had that honour.

For someone as tall as the Georgia Tech senior, hitting it straight all the time in windy conditions like today is challenging. On reflection he might regret all the big shots; perhaps not the greatest strategy to pull out the driver in the demanding conditions on a course that loves to punish. A more conservative approach might have restricted the damage, but none of it really matters, because Lamprecht will already be looking ahead to moving day.

Sports starts go from hero to zero to hero all the time, and Lamprecht is sure to rebound, but this will hurt, especially after the bogey finish.

So here are the positive takeaways.

The pressure is off. He is just 13 shots behind Harman on 10-under. There are still 36 holes left to play. He’ll have an early start and can try to make up some ground before the sweeping rain hits the afternoon field.

And, on Sunday, he will be in the prize giving party to receive the Silver Medal. Once of six amateurs in the field, Lamprecht finished two shots clear of Spaniard Jose Luis Ballester Barrio and four clear of Argentina’s Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira.

The fourth Amateur champion from South Africa will become the first South African to win the award for the Leading Amateur – a reward that speaks volumes to Lamprecht’s unwavering fighting spirit and self-belief.

Lastly, let’s just take a look at who Lamprecht has for company at three under par.

Former Major champions Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka. Danny Willett, Padraig Harrington and Adam Scott. DP World Tour and PGA Tour winners Ryan Fox, Richie Ramsay, Rickie Fowler, Scott Stallings, David Lingmerth, Victor Perez, Andrew Putnam and Robert MacIntyre.

Players with a lot of Majors under the belt and most of them with 15-plus years of experience on the South African amateur.

Mr Lamprecht, bank all that and enjoy your weekend at Hoylake.

SA LEADERBOARD – ROUND 2

132 Brian Harman USA (leader) 67 65

141 Thriston Lawrence 71 70

144 Christiaan Bezuidenhout 73 71; Louis Oosthuizen 74 70

145 Christo Lamprecht 66 79

Missed Cut:

149 Ockie Strydom 72 77; Charl Schwartzel 77 72

152 Branden Grace 73 79; Ernie Els 75 77

156 Martin Rowher 73 80

156 Kyle Barker 76 80

 

Ends

 

PHOTO – Reigning Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht and his caddie Devin Stanton at the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in England; credit The R&A.

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