What’s it like replacing the top amateur in the world? Georgia Tech’s Aidan Tran found out Saturday

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Christo Lamprecht was in the final group to finish up Friday night after the opening round of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. The last hour was a grind, even with him signing for a 2-under 70 mark.

Lamprecht, the 6-foot-8 senior at Georgia Tech and top-ranked amateur in the world, had his back flare up. He fought and grinded to the clubhouse. Then he went straight to the training table.

“I didn’t sleep very good with that,” Yellowjackets’ coach Bruce Heppler said.

Come Saturday morning, Lamprecht texted his coach that he wanted to give it a go, but his back was too injured. In came Aidan Tran, who didn’t know until about 80 minutes before his tee time he was in the lineup.

Aidan Tran of Georgia Tech golf at NCAA Championship, Round 2, May 25, 2024, Omni LaCosta Resort and Spa, Carlsbad, Calif. (Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos)

Tran replaced Lamprecht in Georgia Tech’s lineup at the last minute Saturday, carding a 5-over 77 in the second round at Omni La Costa’s North Course. He had three birdies, including his last hole, and the only true blemish on his scorecard was a poor three-hole stretch on Nos. 12-14 that saw him card three straight double bogeys. Otherwise, considering the circumstances, it was a solid call to the bullpen.

“I was at breakfast with the guys and was just sitting there eating,” Tran said. “Coach pulled me aside and he’s like, ‘Did Christo tell you?’ ‘No, he didn’t tell me anything.'”

Tran had to get into a competitive mode real fast. He has traveled with the team to the ACC Championship and NCAA Regionals but didn’t play until Saturday. Georgia Tech’s drop score was 5 over, which Tran and first-round leader Hiroshi Tai both shot.

“This was definitely different for me,” Tran said.

He said there were some first-tee jitters, so he pulled an iron and ended up striping his tee shot down the fairway. He turned in even before the three straight doubles, then he birdied his final hole and signed for 77.

And Tran can go into tomorrow knowing he’s likely going to play. Heppler said “this is not good” in regards to Lamprecht’s back, which he attributes to stress and numerous factors, like fighting for the No. 1 spot in PGA Tour University and the pressure of being the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

“This is really sad,” Heppler said. “But it’s something that he’s gonna have to take care of. I think some of it is exacerbated by just the stress that he’s been under.”

Because of Lamprecht’s height, stress on his back is always going to be an issue. So while Heppler feels for his superstar, he also knows this will help him learn how to take care of his body into the future.

“This will be something, when there’s that much torque, that he’s got to pay attention to every day as long as he wants to play,” Heppler said.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek