South Africa’s Christo Lamprecht became the youngest winner in the 76-year history of the East of Ireland Amateur Open — and the first from overseas — at a sun-baked County Louth.
Just 12 months after Reece Black became the event’s youngest champion at the age of 17 years and 11 months, the six-feet seven-inch giant sliced seven months off that record as he followed a morning 69 with a one-under 71 on a scorching afternoon to win the title by two strokes from Kilkenny’s Mark Power on 14-under par.
“I haven’t had a big win since then, so it is really nice to get a breakthrough. I struggled a lot, had a lot of seconds and thirds, so it is really nice to pull this one off.”
It was a case of history repeating itself on Irish soil as Lamprecht, a product of the Louis Oosthuizen Academy, followed in the footsteps of his mentor, who captured the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin in 2002.
But Irish golf can also look to the future with confidence after Power, who turns 18 on Saturday, scorched through the field with closing rounds of 69 and 68 to finish second.
“I’ll take it,” said the two-time Irish Boys champion, who will be heading to Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship next year.
Oughterard’s Devin Morely, 20 — one of the stars on the University of Lousville team — also has a great week, carding rounds of 69 and 73 in the final group yesterday to finish tied for third with Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty and Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon, who eagled the 18th, on 11-under.
Rafferty, 26, scorched around the firm and fast links in 66 in the morning to move to within a shot of the leader, tied with Morley, on 12-under.
But while he moved into the lead on 14-under par after picking up two shots in the first six holes, bogeys at the eighth, 10th an 11th undid his challenge.
Lamprecht wobbled with a bogey at the 11th but bounced back with birdies at the 12th and 13th to build up a three-shot cushion.
“Those two birdies on the back nine really settled me down and gave me a lot of confidence,” said Lamprecht, who hit a seven iron to five feet at the 12th and a sand wedge to four feet at the next to move to 14-under.
A bogey the tricky 14th cut the gap to two but while Power got to within one with his sixth birdie of the afternoon at the 17th, Lambrecht parred the 15th, 16th, and 17th to go to the last with a one-shot lead and coolly closed out the win with a birdie.
“I didn’t know exactly what the scores were, then walking down the tee, my coach and manager Neil told me I had to make par to win,” he said. “So that settled me down and after I hit that chip to three feet, it really settled me down a lot.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved