MMABATHO, South Africa (March 2, 2017) -- Scotland celebrated an early victory at the African Amateur Championship with a successful title defense in the Team Competition, but the visitors are still trying to catch Christo Lamprecht in the 72-hole Stroke Play Championship at Leopard Creek Golf Estate.
Lamprecht, who led through the first two rounds, maintained his impressive bid for back-to-back victories after his record-setting triumph in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship last week with a one-under-par 71 in Thursday’s third round.
He moved to nine under 207, two strokes clear of Scotland’s Liam Johnston and Connor Syme.
Johnston carded a 70 and Syme signed for a 72, while Craig Howie posted a 70 for a final round 212 in the Team Competition that sealed victory for Scotland on a winning total of 16-under-par 632.
The Team RSA Juniors also closed with a final round 212, but finished two shots adrift after Garrick Higgo carded a 70 and Jayden Schaper matched Lamprecht’s 71.
Team England took third at six over 654, Team RSA fourth on 657 and Switzerland fifth on 659.
Lamprecht opened the third round with a birdie at the first, but he bogeyed the third and Syme pounced with birdie-birdie start to edge ahead.
Further gains at nine and 11 moved the world number 16 ranked amateur to 11 under, but his run hit a speedbump with a bogey at 12. A double-bogeyed the par four 17th followed and another drop at the final hole let the 16-year-old Southern Cape teenager back in the door.
“I played awesome for the first 11 holes,” said Syme.
“I didn’t miss a shot, but got unlucky at 12 and made a drop. The double-bogey, bogey finish was disappointing. I just hit a poor tee shot on 17 and had to take an unplayable. It was a poor finish, but I’m still in a good position heading into tomorrow and anything can happen on this course.
“You just have to look at the 18th. It’s a par-five finish so you could easily have a two-shot swing. At least we defended our title in the Team Competition. You want to win it, but you can only play your own ball and hope that the others do well.”
Syme will be looking to put some pressure on Lamprecht early in the final round.
“I’ve been getting off to a fast start every day, so I’m just going to try and keep the momentum going,” he said. “I’ll be trying to make as many birdies as possible because I think the scores will be low and I’m predicting a tight finish.
“I received an invite to the Joburg Open and it was an amazing opportunity to play in my first European Tour event. I had a really good week and played really well, so I had a lot of confidence coming in to this week.Syme is hoping for a strong finish to boost his world ranking.
“I plan to join the pro rans eventually, but for the moment I’m happy playing amateur events and I will take my chances as they come up,” he said. “The Walker Cup is a big goal for me this year.
“It really helps massively to get the support of Dunhill, Mr Rupert, Scottish Golf and Aberdeen Asset Management that bring us out to South Africa each year. This is my fourth visit and you just don’t get a better learning opportunity for what tour life is like.”
Lamprecht is relishing the prospect of a final round tussle, but the Southern Cape teenager doesn’t plan to change his approach.
“I’m just going to play the last round like any other round,” said the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Academy member. “I didn’t play great today and it was my worst ball-striking day of the week, but I can’t really complain because I still shot one under.
“I struggled on the front nine and my putting wasn’t great. I just tried to keep the ball in play and I didn’t make any stupid mistakes. My goal is to go under par tomorrow and if I can get it to a couple under, I will be right up there.”