This month’s Eisenhower Trophy is set to welcome some of the game’s most exciting amateur prospects, including 2023 Open Championship first-round leader Christo Lamprecht. Will Kent caught up with the South African ahead of representing his nation at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, while also uncovering what exactly was going through his mind after his storming start at Royal Liverpool.
Leading a Major championship isn’t something many professional golfers can put on their CV. Players often crumble within the pressure-packed environments that surround the sport’s biggest tournaments. However, on July 14 of this year, Lamprecht carded an opening-round 66 to tie the lead after 18 holes. He was, and still is, an amateur.
“On that Friday morning ahead of the second round, I was really just focused on what I could control and not getting ahead of myself and thinking ‘hey, I can win a Major here’,” said the 22-year-old.
“Obviously those thoughts creep into your head at night when you’re dreaming, it’s natural.
“But I think and I guess that’s a lesson of how I did let them creep in a little bit, maybe. I was just focused on playing another good round of golf, that was my mentality going into that round.”
The South African understandably felt the pressure in round two and carded a birdie-less 79 after struggling off the tee. Despite being 13 shots worse in his second outing around Royal Liverpool, he still managed to cling on to make the cut – the only amateur to do so.
“Louis Oosthuizen was there that week and he spoke to me after that Friday round,” added Lamprecht.
The big hitter closed out his week with respectable weekend scores of 76 and 74 to finish in a share of 74th place alongside fellow countryman and four-time DP World Tour winner Thriston Lawrence. It was memorable week for the youngster, and the fun didn’t end there. His victory at the Amateur Championship in June – which gained him his spot in the Open – also means he’ll be teeing it up at Augusta National next year.
“What I learnt was my good golf is good enough to compete with anyone in the world, I just need to get my bad golf to be better,” he continued.
“My whole perspective on where hard work and talent falls in stood out as I’ve learnt over the years that talent only gets you so far. It can make you into a good, competitive college player but once you get on Tour and playing in an Open like that, it’s different.
“I was just surprised by how good every single player that I played with that week was. Going in the weights room in the morning before the tournament and seeing all the top 20 guys in the world throwing around weights was a real eye opener. If you want to be that successful, it’s not just talent, it’s hard work and there was a lot of motivation taken from that. Hopefully I get more exposure and more learning experiences coming in April at the Masters.”
Before driving down Magnolia Lane next spring, Lamprecht has the task of elevating South Africa’s status in the prestigious Eisenhower Trophy this month in the UAE. For a nation steeped in golfing heritage, they have hugely underachieved in this event with just three podium finishes with the most recent of those coming in 1980.
“It’s always a great privilege to represent your country,” he continued.
“I’m a very proud South African. I’m looking forward to it and playing alongside my fellow South Africans. It’s time we do really good in the event as historically we haven’t done too well. I think it could be a really special one for us.
“I’ve never played golf in the Middle East. I’ve been to Dubai for a few days before, but I’ve never played. I’ve heard it’s extremely hot, but I’ve got that experience from studying at Georgia. I’ll be taking it one step at a time when I get there.
“As soon as I finish at college that week I’ll be flying out, probably on October 15 right after a tournament’s final round. Unfortunately not as much preparation as I probably would have liked, but that’s the life of being in college. It’s a balancing act of everything, but I’m just grateful to be there and able to represent my country.”
As the current world amateur number one, Lamprecht will head to Abu Dhabi as one of the tournament’s main attractions. He’s currently the only player inside the top ten of those rankings who isn’t American. The Georgia Tech student is in fine form and is slowly building the foundations towards turning professional next year in the States.
“It all depends on my status after coming out of college,” added the 2017 South African Amateur Championship winner. “Hopefully I’ll be playing on the Korn Ferry or PGA Tour out of the gates. That’ll be the goal and hopefully the route I take. But nothing is too certain right now.”
What is for sure is Lamprecht’s position as one of the most promising talents in the game. His accomplishment in becoming the first South African to ever win the Silver Medal earlier this year signals a promising future. With the Eisenhower Trophy now on the horizon and a Masters debut also in the not-so-distant future, he’s certainly one to watch this month and beyond.