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Amateur Champion Christo Lamprecht cards 'surreal' 66 to set early pace at The 151st Open

Amateur Champion Christo Lamprecht cards 'surreal' 66 to set early pace at The 151st Open

Amateur Champion Christo Lamprecht said it was surreal to see his name at the top of the leaderboard after an opening 66 at Royal Liverpool.


Just a few weeks ago and less than 30 miles from Open venue Royal Liverpool, Christo Lamprecht won The Amateur Championship at Hillside with a 3&2 victory over Ronan Kleu in the 36-hole final.

The 22-year-old South African earned his place in the field for this week through that victory, and grabbed all of the early headlines on his Major debut with an opening five-under 66 to set the pace in the first round of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool.

"I'm extremely pleased and proud of myself," said Lamprecht.

"I was walking up and got the applause from everyone. I looked up at leaderboard and saw my name at the top and I turned to my caddie and said 'how cool is this?'.

"It's pretty surreal. It's nice to see a lot of work behind the scenes pay off. It's something I haven't dreamt of yet, but it's pretty cool."

Currently ranked third in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, the six-foot eight Lamprecht got off to a nervy start but quickly settled in to his round.

After going well left off the tee at the first to find the rough over a path, he got it back to the fairway and then up and down - which included holing an 18-foot putt - to start his round with a par.

He revealed that his caddie told him that as an amateur he can play without stress, and that's the mentality he kept for the remainder of the day.

"I'd probably say the first tee shot was the only bit of nerves I had all day," he said. "I just kind of walked off the first tee box after hitting my snap hook drive, and my caddie just told me, 'listen, you're playing The Open as an amateur; no need to stress'. We kind of had fun from there."

His first birdie of the day came two holes later, rolling in a 25-footer for birdie at the third. A two-putt birdie at the fifth was the start of back-to-back gains for Lamprecht, whose iron shot to the sixth landed just three feet from the pin to set up birdie number three.

He opened up his back nine with another birdie, before dropping his first shot at the 11th after finding thick rough from the tee.

Christo Lamprecht

The moment of his round came with a chip-in for birdie at the par-four 14th, and he produced a brilliant shot from the rough at the next to get up and down for birdie at 15.

Another drive into the rough set up his final dropped shot at 16, but he bounced back at the last - finding the green in two and two-putting for a final-hole birdie in front a packed grandstand and a leaderboard that had his name right at the top.

In that moment, Lamprecht found himself surprised that he was at the top early as an amateur, but he said that he has an innate belief in himself that knows he deserves to be there.

"I mean, as an amateur, yes, it is [surprising]," he said. "But in my own head, no, it's not. I think I'm very hard on myself, and I think I earned my spot to be here. I think the way I played today I earned to be on the top of the leaderboard, as of now.

"It's not a cocky thing to say. I just personally think I believe in myself, and I guess stepping on to the first tee box if you're a professional or a competitor, you should be believing that you should be the best standing there.

"Yeah, I'm very proud of it. I'm a little bit surprised, obviously, naturally, but I'm also... I played good golf today."

Lamprecht played his opening round with Joost Luiten and former Open Champion and fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen, who has been something of a mentor to the young amateur.

He admitted that playing with Oosthuizen greatly helped him during his opening round, with an added bonus of beating him for the first time.

"I think that helped a lot to my score today," Lamprecht admitted.

"I think having someone that I know very well and is a ginormous mentor for me that I've played previously with kind of helped me feel a little bit more at home and at ease.

"So yeah, it was kind of a nice draw. I thought they rigged it by some means, but no, I loved it.

"I don't think I've ever beaten him [before]. I've played with him probably four or five times, nothing more than that. A couple of practice rounds and pro events that I got into as a kid. I guess beating him today was really nice.

"But he's an amazing support and he was supporting me the whole way through. He had a bad round today. I guess he was unlucky a lot of times, but he was cheering me on and that means a lot."


Asked about his mindset heading into the rest of the tournament, Lamprecht said he was going to go and hit some balls on Thursday and not think too far ahead about what's to come.

"I think I'll got hit some balls again," he said. "Wasn't picture perfect today. I just missed it in all the right places in my opinion. I played kind of smart. I still go out there, kind of get a feeling and putt and chip a little bit, and then just take it really easy for the rest of the day.

"I've kind of changed my mindset the last year about how I approach tournaments and how I approach the game and just controlling what I can control and really just focusing - the only thing I am worried about is the next tee shot tomorrow.

"The rest I'm going to deal with it from there on out. I'm not remotely thinking of Sunday or anything. I am just going to go hit a good tee shot on one tomorrow."

And while there is still a lot of golf to be played over the next few days, Lamprecht has put himself right in the frame to make history.

Bobby Jones is the only player to win the Amateur and The Open in the same year, and Lamprecht has a chance to emulate the late, great champion this week.

Jones also famously remained an amateur the entire of his career, and while that might not be the eventual plan for the South African, he is currently planning on staying at Georgia Tech, where he goes to college, for another year.

For Lamprecht it makes sense, given that his win at The Amateur also gets him into the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National and the 2024 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst No.2.

"I'm definitely planning on staying in college for the next year and planning on turning pro after that," he said.

"I loved the programme at tech. Having Stewart Cink and guys like that that we can see week in and week out and feeding off of. It's an amazing programme. I love it."

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