South Africa’s Christo Lamprecht took on the famed links at County Louth and became the first international winner at the East of Ireland Championships over the weekend.
The 17-year-old Lamprecht broke the mould at County Louth, carding a final round 71 for a two-shot victory on 14 under par and enters the record books as the youngest ever winner, besting last year’s champion Reece Black by six months.
Lamprecht entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty and Oughterard’s Devin Morley but it was Kilkenny’s Mark Power who ultimately posed the biggest challenge to his title chances and he finished in second place.
At the start of the final round Rafferty briefly took control with three birdies in his first six holes but Lamprecht was level at the turn on 13 under. Rafferty’s challenge faded at 10 and 11, where he made back-to-back bogeys, and instead, it was Power who emerged from the pack.
Power picked up three shots in his last six holes to card a 68 and set the clubhouse target at 12 under but Lamprecht preserved his slender advantage over the closing stretch and sealed his win in style with a 72nd hole birdie to finish two clear.
“It was a really good win,” said Lamprecht who also won the South African Amateur in 2017. “Started off very nicely. Held it together pretty much today.”
Building on his opening round, Lamprecht posted 68 in round two to lead the qualifiers by one from Morley. He moved to 13 under after a 69 in round three but Morley matched that score to keep on his tail while Rafferty moved into contention thanks to a third round 66.
“Pressure is a tough thing,” said Lamprecht reflecting on the final day. “Trying to be in the moment at every shot and just focus on that,” he said. “I held myself together today.”
Although Rafferty and Morley fell away, Lamprecht had more than his own game to worry about. Three behind with six to play, Mark Power caught fire with birdies at 13 and 14. And when he holed another birdie putt at 17, he was just one behind.
“I felt I really needed a big back nine, even to get up into the top three and see what happens,” said Power. “All of a sudden I started holing a few. The putter came to life.”
Although his tee shot went right into the rough on 18 he managed to work another opening, leaving himself seven feet for birdie.
“I gave myself a good chance up the last,” said Power. “Unfortunately that one slipped by but that one didn’t matter in the end as I lost by two.”
Power’s initial disappointment did not last long. There were too many positives to take from his best result of the season.
“I’ll take second place,” he said. “The field this week was really good. And I’m happy with the way I played.”
For the winner, this success was just as sweet as his victory on home soil in 2017.
“The SA Amateur, that’s been my biggest win so far,” said Lamprecht. “This (East) is right up there. I haven’t had a big win since then, it’s really nice to get a breakthrough.”