Golf makes waves at Watersound Invitational

Senior Christo Lamprecht (left) examines his shot in the Watersound Invitational. Lamprecht clinched the PGA Tour University and World Amateur Golf Rankings. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

After having a successful week at the Amer Ari Intercollegiate in early February, the Jackets teed it up again in the Watersound Invitational, hosted at Shark’s Tooth Golf Course in Panama City Beach, Fla. Like their previous tournament, the Jackets found themselves amongst some of the best teams in the nation including Vanderbilt, Va., and Florida State. This is the fourth consecutive year Tech had traveled to Florida to play in the tournament and it ended with Jackets senior Christo Lamprecht and the team both finishing runner-up. With a good finish in the event this week, Lamprecht would vault to number one in both the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour University Rankings and the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).

The tournament started off uneventful for the Jackets as they shot a 287 (-1) as a team to put themselves in the middle of the pack after day one. Lamprecht and graduate student Bartley Forrester led the team with 71s (-1). While the team limited their bogeys, Tech was only able to make 11 birdies and one eagle in the first round. After the first round, the Jackets were nine strokes behind the Commodores and WAGR leader Gordon Sargent leading the way. If the Jackets were going to close that gap, they needed to give themselves more scoring opportunities and capitalize on the par 5s. 

Unlike the first round, where the gap between best and worst was just three strokes, the second round was much more tightly contested. Lamprecht shot a round-best 65 (-7) that vaulted him into first place and freshman Kale Fontenot fired a five-under par 67 highlighted by seven birdies. Both freshman Carson Kim and Forrester struggled and scored 78. Despite having to count a 78 (+6) in the team total, Tech was still able to move up place in the leaderboard after carding a 281 (-7) and improving by six strokes. However, the margin between them and Vandy still widened as the Commodores fired another 278 (-10). 

Needing a low final round to have any chance at the title, the Jackets fired a 276 (-12), which was tied for the overall tournament best, but they could not overcome the gap. Sophomore Hiroshi Tai led the team carding a 66 (-6) to vault him inside the top-10 individually, and Forrester bounced back off his 79 with a 68 including a stretch of four birdies in five holes. 

Lamprecht started the final day with the lead, but Florida State’s Gray Albright was quick on his tail, draining five birdies on his first nine to capture the lead heading into the back nine. Entering the back nine trailing by two strokes, Lamprecht needed some fireworks to make up for lost  ground. A bogey on the scorable, par 5 13th hole put Lamprecht in an insurmountable hole despite two birdies on the last three holes. Lamprecht finished tied for second with Sargent and one stroke behind the champion Albright.

Even though Lamprecht did not take home the hardware at the Watersound, his performance gave him his 15th career top-five finish in a collegiate event and elevated him into first place in both the PGA Tour U and WAGR rankings. If Lamprecht is able to hold onto the PGA Tour U top position, it would give him automatic status on the PGA Tour this next season. 

In the coming weeks, the Jackets will play at the RE Lamkin Invitational at San Diego Country Club this week, followed by the Linger Longer Invitational at Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee and rounding out March by traveling back out west to The Goodwin at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, CA. 

These highly competitive tournaments will prepare head coach Bruce Heppler’s squad for ACC and Regionals next month as they look to capture the national title after claiming the runner-up spot in last year’s tournament.