COMMENT: Christo Lamprecht ... A future Major champion in waiting

South African amateur golfer Christo Lamprecht celebrates with the silver medal after finishing as the top amateur in the 151st Open Championship. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP

South African amateur golfer Christo Lamprecht celebrates with the silver medal after finishing as the top amateur in the 151st Open Championship. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP

Published Jul 24, 2023


South African men’s golf fans have not had too much to shout about on a major stage for some time now, but in amateur Christo Lamprecht there may just be a star unlike we have seen before.

That’s a significant statement, when SA can lay claim to phenomenal golf talents like Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. In fact, Locke, Player, Els and Goosen are all multiple Major champions.

However, the 22-year-old Lamprecht already boasts a unique honour no other South African has achieved.

The 2.06m big-hitter on Sunday became the first SA player to win the silver medal for the top amateur at The Open Championship. For his efforts, Lamprecht joined the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ Brian Harman at the presentation ceremony to receive his award in front of a global golf audience.

It was the 151st edition of The Open Championship - and Lamprecht will be forever linked with the oldest tournament in golf.

The award for the lowest amateur is a more ‘recent’ accolade, with the accomplishment only acknowledged since 1949. Still, Lamprecht can add himself to a list of names which includes Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

“I had a look at the list last night, and it’s really nice to be part of history like that and engrave my name into history,” said Lamprecht after the event.

“Now that everything is done, it is nice to look back and know I’m the last amateur standing. I’m very proud of myself. I didn’t have the best stuff for the last three days and I’ll need to reflect on that, but I have learned a lot of lessons.”

In fact, Lamprecht grabbed the headlines on day one as he was tied for the lead with a superb opening five-under 66. Though the next three rounds (79, 76 and 74) were more of a struggle, it was more than understandable on major debut.

To be honest, by making the cut Lamprecht had already achieved more than he would have genuinely hoped, as he was the only amateur to play over the weekend. It meant he could play the final two rounds without the pressure of trying to remain the top-placed non-professional. Still, he found it tough, but he ground it out and incidentally tied SA’s top-ranked Thriston Lawrence in 74th position.

All those achievements, point to one thing - an incredibly bright future in the game. Though Lamprecht has insisted he won’t be turning pro just yet - probably not in the next 18 months - when he decides to join the paid ranks, he could well be SA’s next major champion.

That’s also an interesting topic, since there hasn’t been an SA winner of a major on the men’s side since Els triumphed in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes 11 years ago in 2012.

The major drought has been difficult to bear as an SA golf fan, that’s despite Ashleigh Buhai’s victory in the Women’s British Open last year. It’s because SA men’s golf is incredibly strong, with the Sunshine Tour continuing to produce world class players almost every year.

It’s therefore a crying shame that Els is the last SA player to win one of the big four events, though Oosthuizen has six runner-up finishes in majors.

Of course, LIV Golf has meant players like Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and Branden Grace see their world rankings plummet due to their commitment to the Saudi-funded series. For Grace in particular, the former World No 10 finds himself now ranked 421st and without automatic exemption into any of the majors.

With the major drought and LIV Golf issues in mind, it’s important that SA look to the new generation to carry the torch - and in Lamprecht we may just have a new Major champion in waiting.


IOL Sport

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