Five things to know: Christo Lamprecht
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South African amateur holds the lead in the first round at The Open Championship
Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Viewers in America woke up Thursday to discover 6-foot-8 amateur Christo Lamprecht at the top of the leaderboard at The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
The 22-year-old Lamprecht, a senior at Georgia Tech who qualified for The Open via his victory at The Amateur Championship at nearby Hillside Golf Club last month, birdied the third, fifth, sixth and 10th holes to reach 4-under par.
Two bogeys on the back nine (Nos. 11 and 16) were erased with a chip-in birdie on 14 and a routine birdie at the par-5 15th. A 353-yard drive at the par-5 18th gave Lamprecht the opportunity to hit the green in two and set up an easy two-putt birdie to sit at the top of the leaderboard at 5 under.
Amateur Christo Lamprecht chips in for birdie at The Open
Here are five things about Christo Lamprecht.
He is very long
With his unusual build and extra-long levers, Lamprecht can look as if he’s using kids’ clubs and has an unusual action that includes plenty of knee flex through the ball.
He also generates extreme ball speed, touching 200 mph.
“I can definitely hit it further than most people,” he said in an extensive feature in the Atlanta Journal Constitution upon his arrival at Georgia Tech for his freshman year.
With one of the earliest tee times at Royal Liverpool (Game No. 8), Lamprecht seemed to have an easy time of the front nine. At the par-5 fifth hole his tee shot of 320 yards left him with just 193 yards to the green, which he reached before two-putting for birdie.
Through 12 holes his average driving distance of 325 yards was first in the field, well beyond the average of 288 yards.
He’s an All-American at Georgia Tech
As per a story by the Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Ken Sagiura, Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler recruited Lamprecht in part by greeting him in his native Afrikaans on his recruiting trip.
Heppler, who knew the language from his two-year Mormon mission to South Africa, said, “Goeie middag. Hoe gaan dit.” Translation: Good afternoon. How’s it going?
Lamprecht began his collegiate career taking classes virtually at Georgia Tech, as he couldn’t get there from South Africa due to visa issues connected to the COVID pandemic.
Since his arrival on campus, he’s done quite well. He is coming off a junior year in which he was first team All-American; has posted 41 rounds in the 60s, 70 at par or better; and is threatening Bryce Molder’s school record career scoring average (70.69) at 70.33 so far.
He also plays tennis
If there’s one thing scarier than his 200 mph ball speed, it’s the thought of receiving a serve from the towering South African. Lamprecht, the youngest of three children – he has two older sisters – also grew up playing tennis, cricket and rugby before dedicating himself to golf.
His father, also named Christo, introduced him to golf at age 3. And he’s not just a long hitter; he has plenty of all-around game, as evidenced by his chip-in birdie at the par-4 14th hole Thursday.
He’s had a lot of amateur success
Lamprecht went 3-1 to lead the International Team to a 33-27 victory over Team USA at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Cup. At this year’s Arnold Palmer Cup at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Pennsylvania, he lost three of four matches and Team USA won 30-26.
At The Amateur Championship at Hillside Golf Club in Southport, England, last month, he tied for 62nd in the stroke-play portion of the event, barely advancing to match play, then squeaked through his first match in 19 holes. The highest ranked amateur in the field (sixth at the time; he’s up to third now), he rolled from there, beating Rohan Kleu of Switzerland 3&2 in the 36-hole final to become the third South African winner of the event in a six-year stretch.
“I'm over the moon,” Lamprecht said. “I haven't won something big in a long time and it's one to definitely win for sure. I'm ecstatic. I cannot kind of comprehend my feelings right now.
“I tried to stay in my zone the last couple of holes so much. Ronan was playing good and fighting back hard. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it feels good. I'm guessing South Africans like playing links golf. We kind of like being creative so I guess that flowed over into this Championship. It's always nice to be part of history with South Africa and enrich it.”
You might see a lot of him next year
Although Lamprecht will still be playing collegiately in 2024, his victory in The Amateur Championship also qualified him for next year’s Masters Tournament and U.S. Open.
“It's amazing to get into The Open,” he said at Hillside last month. “It's probably the biggest kind of milestone I put on myself this year before I turn pro is just to get myself in a major and get that experience. To get into three is pretty amazing. But right now I'm going to go and celebrate as much as I can.”