Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Only 3 South Africans in Masters field … and it’s amateur Lamprecht grabbing the attention

Former champion Charl Schwartzel is among those teeing it up on Thursday, but Louis Oosthuizen misses out this year.

It’s been 12 long years since a South African won a Major — Ernie Els at the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes. And it doesn’t look like that drought is going to end this weekend when the 88th Masters gets under way at Augusta National on Thursday.

Only three South Africans are in the field this week, at the year’s first Major – former champion from 2011 Charl Schwartzel, qualifier Erik van Rooyen, and amateur Christo Lamprecht.

There’s no place for Louis Oosthuizen, an Open champion in 2010, and Branden Grace, who now both play on the LIV Golf Tour, as well as Christiaan Bezuidenhout, a form man on the PGA Tour, or Dean Burmester, the latest winner on the LIV Tour.

While Van Rooyen, ranked 63rd in the world, is probably in the best form of the South Africans to make a go of it at Augusta this week, he’s missed the cut in his last two starts on the PGA Tour – at last week’s Texas Open and at the Players the week before.

However, a month ago he finished in a tie for second at the PGA Tour’s Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach and also picked up his second tour win at the World Wide Technology Championship in Mexico in November.

In Van Rooyen’s only other Masters appearance in 2022 he missed the cut. He’ll be first man off the tee on Thursday, at 2pm (SA time) alongside Jake Knapp.

Schwartzel, who won the Masters in 2011 and finished third in 2017, has an interesting professional career in that he’s failed to make the top five in all the other Majors he’s played. But, he’s played fairly well on the LIV Tour, winning the inaugural event in 2022.

The 39-year-old with 16 professional wins worldwide will also be off early Thursday, at 2.36pm (SA time), alongside Luke List and the amateur Lamprecht, who completes the South African lineup at Augusta.

Christo Lamprecht

The 23-year-old Lamprecht, who led the Open Championship after the first round at Royal Liverpool last year, goes into his first Masters after showing good form on the US collegiate circuit and he’s somewhat of a sensation at the year’s first Major.

Standing 2.03 metres tall and able to hit the ball prodigious distances, he’s a player the world is coming to know very well.

And as a scholar at Georgia Tech, not far from where the action will be happening this weekend, Lamprecht knows a bit about what to expect at Augusta this week.

“Augusta is going to be great,” Lamprecht told Golf.com recently.

“It’s going to be hard not to think about the moment and what the week entails, but my mentality last summer (at The Open) 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.

“Yeah, we’re fortunate to get out there (on Augusta National) about once a year, but obviously, it’s going to be a little different this time.”

The defending champion this week is Spain’s Jon Rahm, who’s among the favourites alongside 2022 champion Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, who’s looking to capture a first Masters title to complete a career Grand Slam, and Brooks Koepka, always a contender at the Majors.

For all the first and second round tee times and pairings click here.

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