Golf’s Lamprecht wins amateur championship

Christo Lamprecht is the first Yellow Jacket to win the Amateur Championship since 1938. His victory places him as one of three Yellow Jacket players who have ever won the competition. // Photo Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletic Association

The last time a Yellow Jacket won the Amateur Championship, the event was still considered a major championship. Now, Lamprecht joins renowned amateur golfer and Augusta National architect Bobby Jones and Atlanta native Charlie Yates as the only winners from Tech.

It was a long road for Christo to win this tournament. His bout for the 128th Amateur Championship started in the stroke play portion at Hillside Golf Club, where his rounds of 70 and 71 (with a birdie on his finishing hole) put him in a tie for 62nd, narrowly qualifying him for match play. Not only was Lamprecht (#6) the highest-ranked player left according to WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings), but he was also the highest-ranked amateur in the entire field.

In his first-round match, he squared up against Dutchman Jack Ingham. While Lamprecht was the overwhelming favorite, Ingham gave Lamprecht an incredible match that came down to the final hole. Lamprecht’s seven-under round was just enough to push him over the edge and give him the one-up victory. He built off this success, winning his next two matches 3 & 2 over American George Duangmanee and Norwegian Mats Ege. Even after three rounds, if Lamprecht wanted to hold the trophy, he still would have to win four more matches.

In his match that afternoon, he faced Adam Wallin from Sweden. Through the first eight holes, Lamprecht held a slim one-up lead over Wallin. A birdie on the ninth and an eagle on the par-5 11th put him squarely in control of this match, and he was able to close out a two-up victory. Bright and early the following morning, Lamprecht was set to face Estonian Amateur champion Rich- ard Teder in the quarterfinals. Teder took a one-up lead after two holes, but then Lamprecht went on a tear, birdieing four of his next six holes. With two more birdies early on in the back nine, Lamprecht was able to close him out 6 & 5 for a momentous win to vault into the semifinals.

That afternoon, Lamprecht played arguably his tightest match of the tournament against Englishman Frank Kennedy. It was a back-and-forth affair with birdies and bogeys filling the card. At the turn, Lamprecht had a one-down deficit, but two bogeys by Kennedy in the next three holes brought the match back to square. Heading to the 14th hole, Lamprecht stumbled on the following holes lead- ing to Kennedy holding a two- up lead going to the last three holes. Lamprecht dug deep and par-eagle-par, which was good enough to win three consecutive holes and close out an impressive victory against Kennedy.

In the final, Lamprecht drew University of Iowa golfer and Swiss native Ronan Kleu in the 36-hole final. Similarly to Lamprecht’s match against Kennedy, Kleu took an early two-up lead through nine holes, but Lamprecht fought back aggressively on the back nine with a six under par back nine that was able to give him a two-up lead heading into the lunch break. The birdie fest for Lamprecht subsided, but he kept his two-up lead through the first eight holes of the back nine. He then birdied nine and ten to grab a four-up lead over Kleu and grasp firm control of the match. Nonetheless, Kleu- would not go down without a fight as he birdied three in a row, but it was too little too late. Lamprecht closed with a birdie on 15 and a par on 16 to win the 128th Amateur Championship 3 & 2.

Lamprecht’s win defends fellow countryman Aldrich Potgieter’s title from last year. Lamprecht’s victory received outpouring support from South African golf legends Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els and the Black Knight, Gary Player. His win gets him an exemption to play in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool later this July and an invite to the prestigious Masters Tournament next April, among many other exemptions.