151st British Open: Meet the amateurs
17 Jul 2023
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: British Open Championship, Royal Troon Golf Club, Christo Lamprecht Profile

Six amateurs will tee it up in the Open Championship
Six amateurs will tee it up in the Open Championship

The final professional major of the year will have six amateurs in the field. Half of these players have played in a professional major before, while Jose Luis Ballester Barrio, Tiger Christensen, and Alex McGuire are first-timers.

Five of these players earned spots through the five pathways granted to champions of events around the world. Only one of them, Tiger Christensen, earned their spot through Open qualifying, a far cry from the swath of amateurs that qualified for the U.S. Open last month.

With just four sites and none in the United States, it does change the pool from which The Open is drawing for the event. Maybe in the future, the R&A will host a qualifier in the United States or at least someone outside of Great Britain to attract more amateurs. A total of 76 amateurs participated in the final qualifying at the four sites.

Last year, Italian Filippo Celli won low amateur with a score of five under. Three other amateurs made the cut at St. Andrews - Aaron Jarvis (+1), Barclay Brown (+2), and Sam Bairstow (+4).

Let's meet the amateurs teeing it up this week in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Jose Luis Ballester Barrio
Jose Luis Ballester Barrio
Home Country: Spain
Age: 22

Ballester Barrio earned his trip to The Open Championship when he won the European Amateur Championship in Estonia. He fired an opening round 62 and never looked back. Sergio Garcia was the last Spaniard to win the European Amateur Championship.

Another thing he has in common with Garcia is they hail from the province - Castellon. Known as Josele rather than Jose Luis, he lifted the Spanish International Amateur title in 2020 and plays for the Arizona State University Sun Devils – as did compatriot Jon Rahm. In his freshman year of 2021-22 had five top-five finishes in nine stroke play events.

Tiger Christensen
Tiger Christensen
Home Country:Germany
Age: 19

The only Tiger in the field is also the only amateur to have made it through Open Qualifying. The other five players earned their spots through amateur championships. He did come close to nabbing the spot Ballester Barrio won in Estonia but ended up four strokes behind.

Two years ago he won the German International Amateur and was part of the Continental Europe side that beat Great Britain and Ireland in the Jacques Leglise boys event. Before that he was runner-up in the 2019 European boys' championship.

Harrison Crowe
Home Country: Australia
Age: 21

Harrison Crowe
Crowe's victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was not short on drama. He closed with a birdie barrage on the closing nine to erase a three-shot deficit. China's Bo Jin made a double bogey on the 17th hole, and Crowe got up and down from behind the 18th green for birdie to win by one.

It followed a season in which he also won the New South Wales and Victorian amateur titles, the Australian Master of the Amateurs and then the New South Wales Open, making him only the sixth amateur to lift the Kel Nagle Cup and just the second – after Jim Ferrier in 1937-38 – to hold that and the NSW amateur crown at the same time.

Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira
Home Country: Argentina
Age: 23

Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira
The Arkansas razorback earned berths into three majors with his win in the Latin America Amateur Championship. In a wonderful bit of kismet, De Oliveira will tee it up at the same venue where compatriot Roberto de Vicenzo won the only Claret Jog for Argentina in 1967.

“I’m still very shocked – I think my life has changed,” he said on collecting the trophy. "Going back to where Roberto won is very special. I went there in 2016 and they took me to the room where they have portraits and everything about where he won. I felt very proud.”

Christo Lamprecht
Home Country: South Africa
Age: 22

Christo Lamprecht
On June 24 Lamprecht, who stands 6'8", became the third South African winner of the Amateur Championship in the last six years, following Jovan Rebula and Aldrich Potgieter – and like Potgeiter last year he had team-mate Christiaan Maas acting as his caddie.

In 2017 Lamprecht was, aged just 16, the youngest-ever winner of the South African Amateur and both that year and 2019 represented the International team in the Junior Presidents Cup.

He has also won all-American college honors and played in the Eisenhower Trophy and Arnold Palmer Cup. He was a big contributor to Georgia Tech's trip to the NCAA Match Play Championship.

Alex McGuire
Home Country: Ireland
Age: 22

Alex McGuire
The first recipient of an Open place awarded to the player who performs best in the St Andrews Links Trophy, Amateur Championship, and European Amateur Championship. He won the St. Andrews Links by an impressive five shots and reached the quarterfinals of the Amateur Championship. Those finishes were enough to earn him the exception into the Open Championship.

McGuire, who plays his college golf for Florida Atlantic, became the first player in 30 years to defend the East of Ireland Championship.

ABOUT THE British Open

The most coveted trophy in the game and one of the most iconic in all of sport: more commonly referred to as the Claret Jug. Within minutes of winning the British Open, the "Champion Golfer of the Year" gets his name engraved on that cup, and a place in golfing history.

Amateurs have played an important role in the tournament over the years, with players like Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, and more recently Alfie Plant stepping into the international limelight with their golfing performances.

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