Hometown Favorite, Amateur Grab Share of Open Lead
21 Jul,2023

By Tim Liotta


Hometown Favorite, Amateur Grab Share of Open Lead

The first round of the 151st Open Championship, the final major championship of 2023, has one round completed at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, and three are tied for the lead. Rory's not out of it. Rahm might be. And Justin Thomas definitely is.  



About the only thing that went awry for this 22-year-old from South Africa was his opening-hole drive, which went way left. After recovering for par, he posted seven birdies with two bogeys in his first-ever Open Championship round. In the seventh threesome of 52 off on Thursday, Lamprecht was a fixture atop the Open leaderboard almost the entire day. 

"I'd probably say the first tee shot was the only bit of nerves I had all day," said Lamprecht. "Yeah, I just kind of walked off the first tee box after hitting my snap hook drive, and my caddie just told me, listen, you're playing The Open as an amateur; no need to stress. 

"We kind of had fun from there."


The 6-foot-9 amateur was third in the field in driving distance (325 yards) and third in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (+2.16), and fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach (+3.46).

Lamprecht comes off a junior season at Georgia Tech in which he was a finalist for the Haskins Award, given to the year's outstanding college golfer, and qualified for the 151st Open Championship by winning the Amateur Championship, the third South African in the last six years. And it was a title earned. 

To advance out of the 36-hole stroke play qualifier featuring 288 players, Lamprecht had to birdie the final hole. Then he had to win two qualifying matches, the second a 1-up nailbiter, just to reach the 32-player match-play final. 

In his semi-final match, Lamprecht was three holes down with three to play before coming back to win. He was two-down early in the final, but recovered to finish 18 holes 2-up, and never let go of the lead in the final, finishing off the match with a birdie and an excellent pitch on the 15th hole, and a long two-putt on 16 to close out the match.             

With his Amateur Championship victory, Lamprecht not only qualified for 151st Open Championship, but the 2024 Masters Tournament and the 124th U.S. Open as well.

In 2017 Lamprecht was, aged just 16, the youngest-ever winner of the South African Amateur.


Fourth last year at St Andrews, Fleetwood arrived at Royal Liverpool coming off a great stretch of play that's seen him post seven top-20 finishes in his last eight PGA Tour events, including a playoff-loss to Nick Taylor at the RBC Canadian Hope. During that stretch, he also posted three top-6 finishes, including a T5 at the U.S. Open at LACC that saw him shoot a final-round 63. 

The 32-year-old Fleetwood led the field in par-4 scoring (-4), and was 5th in the field in Strokes-Gained putting (+2.85), holing 110 feet, 2 inches of putts. 

"Honestly, from 5th or 6th hole onwards felt like I started hitting good golf shots and I had some chances, but my putts were close rolling at the hole," he said. 

"Just a case of finally getting on a run really through there. ... As first rounds go, that's absolutely the one you wanted, and to get off to a good start feels good."

Fleetwood is playing in his ninth Open Championship, with his best finish a runner-up performance to Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush in 2019.

In his pre-tournament press-conference on Wednesday, Fleetwood, who was born and raised in the seaside town of Southport, some 20 miles to the north, was asked if he ever imagined winning as a hometown favorite.

"I've imagined it about a million times probably," he said. "Winning a major is a dream, or winning The Open is a huge, huge dream. No matter where that is, that's always something I've visualized and always thought about.

"But then again, having the opportunity to do it so close to where you grew up is something that's very unique and very special."


When Emiliano Grillo is the kind of PGA Tour pro who is almost never noticed. When he won the Charles Schwab Challenge in a playoff, it was his second PGA Tour victory in more than 200 starts on tour over a eight-year career. 

He's made the cut in more than three-quarters of his starts, and has 15 career top-5 finishes, including six 2nd- and four third-place finishes. In 22 major-championship starts, he's never finished higher than the T12 he posted in the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George's.

And on Thursday, he had the kind of round a solid PGA Tour pro can have. After falling to +2 through holes, he posted seven birdies, capped by holing a 51-foot birdie putt on 18, along with eight pars to finish with a share of the lead at five-under-par. 

"This is what I'm here for. I love it," Grillo said. "I'm here to play as many holes as I can with the lead and just enjoy. It's one of the greatest honours in the world, and I'm up there. I guess goal achieved for today."

When asked what his expectations for Friday were, Grillo replied: "Just one shot at a time, hit the fairway, hit the green, then make the putt every hole. That's kind of the strategy every day that you go out and play, and today that was the case again."



The internal out of bounds to the right of the 18th fairway caught Rickie Fowler, and led to Phil Mickelson posting a triple-bogey 8, and Justin Thomas posting a quadruple-bogey 9. Seven of the 12 players to post -3 or better birdied the 18th.


The closing hole was toughest on Taichi Kho, the first player from Hong Kong to win on the Asian Tour. Kho who hit his second shot into the third of three bunkers left of the green. After two failed attempts to get out, he finally escaped the bunker by hitting away from the green into the native area even farther left. From there he chipped the ball back into the same greenside bunker, from which Kho was forced to hit his seventh shot out sideways to more native area beyond the back of the green. 


The brand-new 17th hole, called "Little Eye," got the best of Lucas Herbert, who missed his tee shot left, found the bunker with his second, and wound up making six. In 10 painful minutes, Herbert fell off the leaderboard, going from -3 to Even.

"I could have told you there would be carnage," he said. "I could have predicted it for you. I think it's a great hole. There's no wind. It's a gap wedge and you can make a two pretty easily, but that wind gets going and you can't really feel it too much on the tee. It becomes a really tricky shot."


Seungsu Han of South Korea was +6 over the first four holes, recovered with a birdies on 5, 7, 13 & 17 to get back to +2 only to post a triple-bogey 8 on the closing hole after his drive went out-of-bounds. 


Lamprecht has jumped out to a big lead in the race for the Silver Medal, awarded to the low amateur. Five other amateurs to have qualified for the 151st Open Championship. The others are: Alex Maguire, Ireland, (+1); Jose Luis Ballester, Spain (+2); Harrison Crowe, Australia (+5); Tiger Christensen, Germany, (+6), and Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, Argentina, (+6).


The biggest change getting no attention is the 10th hole, which converted from an easy par-5 in 2006 and 2014 to a par-4 for this championship, and the hardest hole on the course on Thursday.


Mild again, at best. Expect a cloudy morning with a few light to moderate showers, with sunny skies expected to take over in the afternoon. High expected to be 63 degrees, low 57.

Winds: W to NW 10-13mph gust 14-17mph increasing 13-16mph gust 18-23mph by afternoon, slowly easing SW 8-10mph gusts 12-14mph during evening.



Wyndham Clark (-3)

Max Homa (-3)

Jordan Spieth (-2)

No Damage Done

Patrick Cantlay (-1)

Brooks Koepka (-1)

Hideki Matsuyama (-1)

Scottie Scheffler (-1)

Xander Schauffele (-1)

Viktor Hovland (-1)

Rory McIlroy (E)

Tyrrell Hatton (E)

Not Out of it

Matt Fitzpatrick (+1)

Jason Day (+1)

Adam Scott (+1)

Cameron Smith (+1)

Shane Lowry (+1)

Rickie Fowler (+1)

Cameron Young (+1)

Collin Morikowa (+2)

Tony Finau (+2)

Needs To Go Low Friday

Jon Rahm (+3)

Bryson DeChambeau (+3)

Dustin Johnson (+3)

Justin Rose (+3)

Padraig Harrington (+3) 

Just 18 Holes Left to Play

Phil Mickelson (+6) ... +1 through 16, doubled 17, tripled 18.

Justin Thomas (+11) ... Even through 5, from there: 6 pars, 4 bogeys, 2 doubles, a quadruple-bogey 9 on 18th.