South African golfer Christo Lambrecht
Jared C Tilton/Getty Images
- South African amateur Christo Lambrecht stunned a world-class field as he co-captained the Open Championship.
- Lamprecht used his long limbs to his advantage with flourishing haul from the tee.
- Lamprecht is confident in his ability, saying he is proud of what he accomplished on opening day.
South African amateur Christo Lambrecht left mentor Louis Oosthuizen in the shadows as he stormed a share of the Open Championship lead in his first round at a major on Thursday.
A product of the Oosthuizen Golf Academy back home in South Africa, Lambrecht grew up as a 2010 Open Champion rusher before moving on to continue his education on and off the course at Georgia Tech in the US.
But his promising junior career was almost derailed by a growth spurt, which is evident in Lamprecht’s 6-foot-8-inch (2.03-meter) frame.
“I started out very competitively, was a little better than everybody at 14 and 15, and then I had a growth spurt, and it was all about golf all over the place. I didn’t know what was going on. I was changing clubs every six months,” said Lamprecht.
“I think once I finally got to a certain length where I didn’t grow much more and became more mature, I figured out where to go.”
The 22-year-old used his long limbs to his advantage with a booming haul off the tee on Thursday.
“He has—and I’m sure it’s no surprise—huge strength because he’s a giant guy,” said 2009 Open champion Stuart Sink, who is in the golf program at Georgia Institute of Technology.
“When a 50-year-old golfer sees a guy like him, it’s pretty much your basic nightmare, watching a guy like him come through.”
But it was Oosthuizen who played the biggest role in shaping another potential grand champion from South Africa.
“I think having someone I know really well who’s a great mentor to me, and who I’ve kind of played with previously, has helped me feel at home and a little bit more comfortable,” added Lamprecht.
“Lewis was by far my favorite player (growing up). I kind of grew up, knowing him personally, watching him play, it’s so cool.
“I don’t think I’ve ever beaten him before. I’ve played him probably four or five times, nothing more. Training tours and professional events I’ve been in as a kid. I think it was really nice to beat him today.”
Oosthuizen had a day to forget as he finished three times equal after his first run.
But he could be pleased to see the fruits of his academy’s labors blooming up close.
“For us, it’s great because it shows us that we’re doing the right things, you know, what we’re doing with young people coming up from the ranks,” said Oosthuizen.
“It just shows us that we’re on the right track and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Lamprecht secured his place at Royal Liverpool by winning the Amateur Championship at nearby Hillside last month.
And he showed no sign of stage fright despite being highlighted in his first attempt at major golf.
“I’ve earned my place to be here. I think the way I played today earned me being at the top of the leaderboard, so far,” said Lamprecht.
“It’s not presumptuous to say it. Personally, I believe in myself, and I think to get into square one if you’re a professional or a competitor, you have to believe you have to be the best out there.
“I’m very proud of that. I’m a little surprised, of course, of course, but I played really good golf today.”