Christo Lamprecht finds himself in rarified air.
Lamprecht (pictured), a 22-year-old amateur from South Africa, posted a 5-under-par 66 and is tied for the lead with Tommy Fleetwood of England and Emilio Grillo of Argentina after the first round of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, Wirral, England.
“It’s pretty surreal (to be leading The Open),” said the 6-foot-8 Lamprecht, who is a senior at Georgia Tech and was selected first team All-American last season. “It’s nice to see a lot of work behind the scenes pay off. It’s something I haven’t dreamt of yet, but it’s pretty cool. I think I earned my spot to be here. I think the way I played today, I earned to be on the top of the leaderboard.
“The first tee shot was the only bit of nerves I had all day. I just kind of walked off the first tee box after hitting my snap hook drive, and my caddie (an assistant coach at Georgia Tech) just told me: ‘Listen, you’re playing The Open as an amateur; no need to stress.’
“We kind of just had fun from there.”
Lamprecht, who earned his spot in The Open by winning The 2023 Amateur Championship last month at Hillside Golf Club in Southport, England, only 28 miles north of Liverpool, made three birdies in four holes through No. 6 and added four birdies on the back nine against two bogeys in his 66.
Fleetwood, who has won nine times as a professional but never a major, matched that score by making four birdies in six holes on the back nine, while Grillo, who has four pro titles, had bogeys on two of the first three holes but bounced back and collected seven birdies including five on the back nine.
“It’s up there, with my best rounds,” said Fleetwood, who enjoyed being cheered on by the English fans all day. “It’s always going to be a great time, having support like that. But on top of that, playing a great round, it does feel really good. You can’t ask for more from the fans and the support. They were so great to me today.
“I started off a little bit slow, I didn’t really get it off the tee that well on the first few holes, but once I got going, I played the par-5 fifth really well. One bogey made all day, and I actually hit a great golf shot, half club too much, and for the rest of the round I just played really well. It was nice to get on a run on the back nine, really.
“To be in the clubhouse now, to have played so well, it’s a lovely feeling. I can rest up and start getting ready for tomorrow.”
Said Grillo: “This is what I’m here for. I love it. I’m here to play as many holes as I can with the lead and just enjoy. It’s one of the greatest honors in the world, and I’m up there. I guess the goal was achieved for today.
“I’m taking it just one shot at a time, hit the fairway, hit the green, then make the putt on every hole. That’s kind of the strategy every day that you go out and play, and today that was the case again. We have a long way to go, but everybody is here to do the same, play the best and lift the Claret Jug on Sunday.
“The four majors are the things that we want the most.”
Left-hander Brian Harman had five birdies and one bogey in a 67 that put him in a tie for fourth with Antoine Rozner of France, who had six birdies on each nine, and Adrian Otaegui of Spain, who birdied four of the last seven holes.
Eighth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal had two birdies on each nine in a 68 and is in a big tie for seventh with reigning U.S. Open champion and 10th-ranked Wyndham Clark, who had four birdies on the back nine; 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, who played bogey-free; Alex Noren of Sweden, who made an eagle and three birdies on the back nine; Shubhankar Sharma of India, who had two birdies on each nine, and Michael Stewart of Scotland, who made three birdies in each nine.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler birdied two of the last four holes to cap a 70 and is in a tie for 19th that includes fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who kick-started his round with a birdie on the first hole, fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, who made three birdies on the back nine, and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who bounced back from two early bogeys with three birdies, including one on the last hole.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland made two late birdies and is tied for 32nd at 71, defending champion and seventh-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia had three birdies in the first eight holes in a 72 and is in a tie for 48th that includes ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who birdied two of the last four holes, while third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the Masters champion, struggled to a 74 and is tied for 89th.
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