Lamprecht leads amateur challenge in Investec SA Open

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: Ronan Kleu of Switzerland tees off on the 9th hole during the Final of Match Play on Day Four of The Amateur Championship at Hillside Golf Club on June 24, 2023 in Southport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Octavio Passos/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

21 November 2023 – World No 1-ranked amateur Christo Lamprecht leads a quintet of GolfRSA National Squad golfers into this year’s Investec South African Open Championship, giving the country’s top amateurs a wonderful opportunity to test themselves against some of the world’s best professionals.

Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate will host the $1.5-million showpiece, jointly sanctioned Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour, for a second successive year from 30 November to 3 December.

GolfRSA opted to give their five automatic spots in the field to the top two US-based amateurs, Lamprecht and Christiaan Maas, and the top three locally ranked players, Altin van der Merwe, Dan Bennett and Jordan Burnand.

The qualifying events next week will offer further opportunities for the country’s amateur talents to earn their place into the championship.

“As the custodians of the world’s second oldest Open, we are extremely pleased to offer these hugely talented amateurs the opportunity to test themselves in a championship of this stature,” said South African Golf Association President Henk Smith.

“We are incredibly fortunate that we have a great depth of choice amongst our elite amateur golfers, and we implore these fine young golfers and those who qualify to grab this opportunity with both hands, and to use it to further enhance their careers.”

2023 Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht: credit R&A | Getty Images

Reigning Amateur champion Lamprecht will be making his fifth appearance in the Sunshine Tour’s flagship event, which is this year again being played at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

Lamprecht will be hoping to annex the Freddie Tait Cup by finishing as the low amateur, as he did in this year’s Open Championship.

It would certainly cap off a remarkable year for the 22-year-old who became the first-ever South African to hold the No 1 position in the Official World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2023.

“I’ve had an amazing year,” said the Georgia Tech student. “I could never have dreamed it would go this well – and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I have had. To play in The Open was a dream come true and next year I have The Masters and the US Open to look forward to.

“Before then, however, I have some unfinished business with the SA Open. I haven’t played as well as I know I’m capable of in this event and I’d really like to put in a good showing. To claim the Freddie Tait would really put an exclamation point on an unbelievable year.”

Christiaan Maas will be back to defend the Freddie Tait Cup in the 2023 Investec SA Open at Blair Atholl from 30 November to 3 December; credit GolfRSA

Maas, last year’s winner of the Freddie Tait Cup, finished joint 35th at the Gary Player-designed course, after shooting rounds of 69, 65, 72 and 77. Remarkably, the Texas University student was lying in a tie for third at the halfway stage of the tournament.

Van der Merwe and Burnand are coming into their Investec SA Open debut with some great form.

Not only has Van der Merwe racked up five wins on home soil this season, the 26-year-old also excelled abroad with a runner-up finish in the Scottish Men’s Open, a 10th-place finish in the Brabazon Trophy and a tie for 12th in the St Andrews Links Trophy.

The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member recently represented South Africa alongside Lamprecht and Maas in the Eisenhower Trophy in Abu Dhabi, where the trio secured South Africa’s best finish in the 33rd World Amateur Team Championship since 1982 with a seventh-place finish.

Burnand, also a 2023 inductee into the GolfRSA National Squad, finished fourth in the Scottish Men’s Open, made the cut in the Brabazon Trophy and qualified for the match play stage of The Amateur Championship. The reigning Border Stroke Play champion partnered Ivan Verster to South Africa’s 11th consecutive top-five finish in the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup in Argentina in early November, before finishing ninth in the Argentine Amateur Championship.

Bennett, the country’s top-ranked junior, will also be making his debut in the Investec SA Open.

The 18-year-old is certainly capable of going low, which he demonstrated in his score of 34-under-par in the Nomads SA Boys Under-19 Championship earlier this year, where he registered a 21-stroke victory.

“We know how good our top amateur players are and how much potential they have,” says GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn. “But it is very different when they are thrust into a big event on a huge stage, with spectators and television coverage, and professionals who are competing for their livelihood.

“These opportunities are really valuable for our squad members to get a taste of professional events and measure themselves against some of the very best players on the DP World Tour.”