Lamprecht's caddie Palmer Cup teammate, Christiaan Maas, who was on the bag for Aldrich Potgieter
when he won at Royal Lytham & St Annes 12 months ago. (R&A photo)
South African Christo Lamprecht defeated Ronan Kleu from Switzerland in a thrilling contest to win The 128th Amateur Championship at Hillside.
In front of large crowds on a glorious day, the 22-year-old claimed a 3&2 victory in an exciting 36-hole Final to lift one of the most prestigious trophies in the amateur game.
From an international field of 288 players representing 38 countries, Lamprecht became the third South African winner in the last six years after Jovan Rebula in 2018 and Aldrich Potgieter last year.
Lamprecht – the highest-ranked player in the field at sixth on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) and a prodigious ball striker from his 6ft 8in frame – squeezed into the top-64 and ties for the match play stages before excelling in the knock-out format.
By virtue of his victory, Lamprecht secured exemptions into The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool next month, the US Open, and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament in 2024. He also joins a Championship roll of honour which includes Bobby Jones, Sir Michael Bonallack, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia.
It was also a notable day for his caddie and International Arnold Palmer Cup teammate, Christiaan Maas, who was on the bag for Potgieter when he won at Royal Lytham & St Annes 12 months ago.
Kleu was aiming to become the first Swiss player to win The Amateur and the 23-year-old – who tied second in stroke play qualifying – made three late birdies to push Lamprecht to the 34th hole.
In the morning action, Lamprecht’s opening birdie gave him the advantage. But Kleu, placed 376th in the world rankings, settled down and achieved three birdies in a row from the 6th to go one up. With his precision iron play, the Swiss national team member also birdied the 9th to move two ahead after nine holes.
In a see-saw contest, Kleu bogeyed the 10th and 11th – with Lamprecht also eagling the 11th – as the match returned to all square. Lamprecht, a first team All-American for Georgia Tech with eight top-ten finishes in the 2022-2023 season, then seized control. Aided by his long driving, he birdied five of the last seven holes – including four in a row from the 15th. However, Kleu closed with two birdies of his own to stay in touch at only two down at the halfway stage.
Lamprecht, who was six-under-par for the morning’s 18 holes, had played 21 more match play holes this week than Kleu but he showed no signs of tiredness to take the 19th after Kleu’s bogey to go three up.
It stayed that way until the 24th when the Swiss struck it close to reduce the deficit. A brilliant pitch from the dunes from Lamprecht restored his advantage at the 27th. The 2017 South African Amateur winner made another decisive move at the short 28th, holing from 15 feet for back-to-back birdies to go four up.
Kleu missed an opportunity at the par-5 29th, but did capitalise at both the 30th and 31st to suddenly reduce the gap to two holes once more. There was then incredible drama at the 32nd as the Swiss made a third straight birdie from 25 feet after slicing his drive into rough – but it was a birdie matched by a cool Lamprecht from six feet. His fifth birdie in the afternoon at the 33rd took him to three up and a short par putt at the 34th sealed his triumph.
Lamprecht also became the third player to win The Amateur at Hillside after Jay Sigel in 1979 and Bryden Macpherson in 2011. The north-west venue continued its pedigree of hosting championships. One of many fine links courses on ‘England’s Golf Coast’, it frequently stages Final Qualifying for The Open and in 2022 held the Cazoo Classic, a DP World Tour event.
The R&A again provided live stream coverage of the 36-hole Final. It was available on www.randa.org as well as its YouTube channel as well as coverage on Sky Sports Golf.
The Amateur Championship will be played at Ballyliffin from 17–22 June in 2024.
View final scoring from The Amateur Championship here.
Christo Lamprecht, South Africa
On the win:
“I'm over the moon. I haven't won something big in a long time and it's one to definitely win for sure. I'm ecstatic. I cannot kind of comprehend my feelings right now.
“I tried to stay in my zone the last couple of holes so much. Ronan was playing good and fighting back hard. It hasn’t sunk in yet but it feels good. I'm guessing South Africans like playing links golf. We kind of like being creative so I guess that flowed over into this Championship. It's always nice to be part of history with South Africa and enrich it.”
On major exemptions:
“It's amazing to get into The Open. It's probably the biggest kind of milestone I put on myself this year before I turn pro is just to get myself in a major and get that experience. To get into three is pretty amazing. But right now I'm going to go and celebrate as much as I can.”
On his caddie, Christiaan:
“He's an amazing golfer in his own right. He's going to do amazing things and he's probably going to win this Championship as well, in my opinion. Just having him on the bag and having a little bit of experience, we kind of play golf very similarly and approach the game the same way.”
Ronan Kleu, Switzerland
“On the back nine I gave it a run with those three straight birdies and gave it my all. I feel like I unfortunately left a lot out there. Christo played very solidly. He drives the ball unbelievably as we all know. So fair play to him, honestly, and congratulations. I think if I had made a couple more putts in the afternoon it may have been a different situation.
“I'm pretty down unfortunately but, yeah, it's definitely a good week. I can take a lot of positives from it. Golf is growing in Switzerland. I hope that I manage to help out.”
Lamprecht, 22, won the last three holes – helped by an eagle at the 17th – for a dramatic one-hole semi-final success against English teenager Frank Kennedy.
The highest-ranked player in the field, at sixth on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), will now aim to become the third South African to win The Amateur in the last six years.
Kleu won a one-sided semi-final against 16-year-old TK Chantananuwat from Thailand after easing to a superb 8&6 success.
The 23-year-old will bid to become the first Swiss player to ever win The Amateur in the 36-hole showdown. Twenty years ago at Royal Troon, Switzerland’s Raphael De Souza advanced to the Final before losing to Gary Wolstenholme of England.
Ranked 376th in the world, Kleu didn’t lose a single hole in his quarter and semi-final ties as he continued the form which saw him finish tied second in stroke play qualifying.
The pair will play for one of the most prestigious trophies in the amateur game with the winner also securing exemptions into The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool next month, the US Open, and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament in 2024.
Lamprecht and Kennedy, 17, had a tight tussle which the South African edged. They shared five birdies in the opening five holes before Lamprecht’s bogey at the 6th gave Lytham Trophy winner Kennedy a one-hole advantage.
The tall South African, aiming to emulate compatriot Aldrich Potgieter after his win at Royal Lytham & St Annes last year, squared the match twice but Kennedy’s birdies at the 14th and 15th looked to be decisive. However, Kennedy’s bogey at the 16th and a stunning eagle by Lamprecht at the par-5 17th – his 15 feet putt leading to an emotional fist-pump – squared the tie. A solid par at the last after Kennedy found the greenside bunker sealed a comeback triumph.
Kleu was impressive from tee to green in the last-four tie with Chantananuwat, recording five birdies and just a single dropped shot. The Thai, placed 29th in the world, struggled to find his best form with a double bogey at the 2nd and four further bogeys as Kleu achieved a notable upset.
In the morning’s quarter-final matches, Chantananuwat and Max Schliesing played a fantastic tie. Ranked just inside the top-700 in the word standings, the Swiss was six-under-par for his round but still lost out by two holes.
Chantananuwat was two up after nine holes thanks to five birdies and just two dropped shots. His 22-year-old opponent fought all the way and squared the match after birdies at the 14th and 15th. Chantananuwat simply refused to give in and birdied the last three holes in a seven-under-par round.
The meeting between Kennedy and Irishman Alex Maguire was also a close contest. Kennedy was never behind but couldn’t shake off his opponent until late in the back nine. Maguire’s birdie two at the short 10th took him only one behind, before the par-5 11th proved to be key. Kennedy lost a ball to the left in the rough with his approach but still rescued a par, while Maguire made bogey. After the Englishman drove the par-4 14th with the tee pushed up, Kennedy closed out a 3&2 triumph.
Lamprecht’s powerful driving proved the difference against Richard Teder. With the Estonian more tactical with his play, the South African took out driver at every opportunity. He hooked his ball out of bounds at the 2nd to fall one down but produced four birdies in the next six holes to turn the match around. Teder, 18, has enjoyed a great week but his bogey at the par-3 10th and two further birdies from Lamprecht at the 12th and 13th closed out a 6&5 win.
Kleu was also a big winner, coming through his last-eight match against Sweden’s Tobias Jonsson by 5&4. Two birdies helped the Swiss national team player to two-up at the turn and Jonsson’s four bogeys in a row from the 10th saw his run come to an end.
The R&A will provide coverage of the 36-hole Final. This can be watched on www.randa.org as well as its YouTube channel and the live stream will begin a 8.25am. Live coverage of the morning session is also being broadcast by Sky Sports Golf, with live updates during the afternoon action.
Christo Lamprecht, South Africa
“I was on the back foot all day so I'm in awe about getting it done. I didn't think I would but I just kept on fighting and getting myself in position to stay in the game – and the putt on 17 really helped doing that. Frank chipped (for his birdie) and I saw the break to an extent. I knew I had to make it. I left a lot of putts short today so I just knew if I gave this one a go and gave it a run. The celebration was a release of a lot of pent-up energy.
“It was fun to feed off the crowd. They are amazing and I love golf and it's really a blessing to be out here playing for them.”
Ronan Kleu, Switzerland
“I think I'm just trying to stick to my game plan. TK this morning had a really awesome showing. I think he shot seven-under and I was well aware of that. But then this afternoon I think I just had the momentum go in my favour a couple of times at the beginning. It was fun playing against him.
“I'm very excited and I also appreciate all the support I get from Swiss golf as a federation and all the support from everyone at home – it's great. I played a practise round with Raphael De Sousa at the DP World Tour event in Switzerland in 2021. He is a very good player.”