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Lanky amateur Lamprecht takes British Open by storm

South African amateur Christo Lamprecht left his mentor Louis Oosthuizen in the shade as he stormed into a share of the British Open lead in his first round at a major on Thursday.

Lamprecht grew up idolising the 2010 Open champion, and is a product of Oosthuizen’s golf academy back home in South Africa, before moving on to continue his education on and off the course at Georgia Tech in the United States.

But a promising junior career was nearly knocked off course by a growth spurt, which is evident in Lamprecht’s 6 feet 8 inch (2.03 metres) frame.

“I started out very competitively, and golf-wise I was a little bit better than everyone at 14, 15 years old and then I kind of hit the growth spurt and everything golf-wise was everywhere. I didn’t know what was going on. I was changing clubs every six months,” said Lamprecht.

“I guess once I kind of finally got to a certain length where I didn’t grow that much more and got a little bit more mature, I figured out where to go.”

The 22-year-old used his long limbs to his advantage with booming distances off the tee on Thursday.

“He’s got — and I’m sure it’s no surprise — pretty huge power because he’s a giant man,” said 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink, who is involved in the golf programme at Georgia Tech.

“As a 50-year-old golfer seeing a guy like him, he is pretty much like your basic nightmare, watching a guy like him coming up.”

But it is Oosthuizen who has played the biggest role in moulding another potential future major champion from South Africa.

‘Ginormous mentor’

“I think having someone that I know very well and is a ginormous mentor for me that I’ve played previously with kind of helped me feel a little bit more at home and at ease,” added Lamprecht.

“Louis was by far the favourite (player growing up). I’ve kind of grown up, known him personally, and watching him play, it’s pretty amazing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever beaten him. I’ve played with him probably four or five times, nothing more than that. A couple of practice rounds and pro events that I got into as a kid. I guess beating him today was really nice.”

Oosthuizen had a day to forget as he ended three over par after his first round.

But he could take solace in seeing the fruits of the work in his academy blossom up close.

“For us it’s great because it shows us we’re doing the right things, you know, what we’re doing with the youngsters coming through the ranks,” said Oosthuizen.

“It just shows us that we’re on the right track and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Lamprecht earned 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 thrown into the spotlight in his first taste of major golf.

“I earned my spot to be here. I think the way I played today I earned to be on the top of the leaderboard, as of now,” said Lamprecht.

“It’s not a cocky thing to say. I just personally think I believe in myself, and I guess stepping onto the first tee box if you’re a professional or a competitor, you should be believing that you should be the best standing there.

“I’m very proud of it. I’m a little bit surprised, obviously, naturally, but I played good golf today.”