Who is Christo Lamprecht? Golfing giant competing at The Masters

The towering South African, more than two metres tall, is making his debut at Augusta

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 11 April 2024 08:20 BST
Christo Lamprecht is a rising star of golf
Christo Lamprecht is a rising star of golf (Getty Images)

It’s hard to miss Christo Lamprecht. At six-foot-eight, the giant 23-year-old towers over most of his golfing rivals, an example of super-sized South African megafauna. But tournament by tournament, Lamphrect is developing a reputation to match his massive frame.

Born on the Western Cape, Lamprecht makes his debut in The Masters this week to take another huge stride towards the PGA Tour. One of the world’s leading non-professionals, the youngster secured victory at The Amateur Championship last year at Hillside Golf Club on Merseyside to secure entries into the sport’s three most prestigious majors.

His debut at The Open last summer was impressive, Lamprecht sharing the round one lead before making the cut and finishing as the week’s low amateur to earn the Silver Medal. Soon after, he rose to the top of the amateur rankings — this is a huge man with a huge potential.

Christo Lamprecht won the Silver Medal at last year’s Open
Christo Lamprecht won the Silver Medal at last year’s Open (Getty Images)

“To think about everything that I want to accomplish and not actually appreciating where I’m at would do myself wrong,” Lamprecht told the PGA Tour website ahead of his Masters debut. “I’m doing what I’m loving. I’ve got all 10 fingers and all 10 toes and I’m still enjoying the sport. I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for.”

A student at Georgia Tech, Lamphrect was nicknamed Melman growing up after the David Schwimmer-voiced giraffe from the Madagascar films. His long leverage, accentuated by legs that are even lengthier than they should be, would seem to give him a natural advantage when it comes to swinging a golf club.

But watching the motion of Lamprecht’s stroke soon reveals the problem his height causes, a dip of the knee as he strikes unavoidable. While the frames of his irons stretch one and a half inches further than a typical club, the maximum legal length of a driver is capped at 46 inches, limiting the equipment at his disposal. But the strange swing is proving no barrier to success.

Christo Lamprecht has a strange swing due to his height
Christo Lamprecht has a strange swing due to his height (Getty Images)

“When you get really tall, in the five percentile of height like he is, the conventional aspects of the golf swing can be thrown out the window because your levers are so long,” said Stewart Cink, the 2009 Open champion and a Georgia Tech alum. “It just creates a certain type of leg action and body action that we are not used to seeing. He’s made it his and done a pretty good job of it.”

“He’s just got this unbelievable power on one end of the spectrum. And incredible touch and finesse on the short little tiny shots around the green that you just don’t see from very many players, especially somebody who is six-foot-eight.”

The PGA Tour hasn’t seen a golfer of Lamprecht’s since Phil Blackmar, a three-time winner who concluded his time on tour in 2000, though England’s Chris Wood, another former Open low amateur, does not fall far short of the two-metre mark. Adrian Meronk has plenty of length, too.

But where many taller golfers struggle with their short game, Lamprecht’s touch around the greens has golf insiders excited. The South African will be tested by Augusta’s famously quick putting surfaces but has been mentored by Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els, two compatriots and Masters runners-up.

His choice of college has been handy, too. The Yellow Jackets’ Atlanta campus is about two hours west of Augusta, with Georgia Tech’s golfers afforded occasional outings on the sport’s most famous course. That existing knowledge should come in handy for a man who showed he could handle the big stage at Hoylake last summer.

“It was a crazy week,” Lamprecht told Golf of his Open experience. “I mean, I felt every emotion I possibly could. That ecstatic moment on Thursday — I was leading the Open! And come Friday it was like, I might miss the cut! It was an experience of a lifetime, for sure. But it was nice to know that if I play golf the way I can, I can beat everyone in the world for a day. That gives me a lot of motivation to keep going at it.

“It’s going to be hard not to think about the moment and what the week entails, but my mentality last summer was nothing to lose. Play my game, have fun. It’s still a golf course, I’m still playing my ball. I’ll learn as much as I can.”

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