Tech players have had low-iron clubs made for the event to hit off the tee. After using his driver only once in one of his four rounds at Grayhawk last year, Christo Lamprecht had a 3-iron club custom built for his 6-foot-8 frame that he’ll use to drive off the tee.
“I think he’ll wear that thing out,” Heppler said.
Lamprecht is one of three Jackets who played at Grayhawk last year who will play again starting Friday, the other two being Connor Howe and Bartley Forrester. Benjamin Reuter and Ross Steelman fill out the five-man team. Lamprecht, Forrester and Howe were All-ACC selections.
“I feel like I’m much more of an all-around golfer this year than last year,” Lamprecht said. “I feel like last year, I wasn’t able to adapt to a course that didn’t suit me, and I feel like I’ve been working on different aspects of my game, so I feel a lot better about that. And as a team, I think we’re so much more ready to play there.”
Perhaps that adjustment will help the Jackets bring home the lone item missing from their vast trophy case – a national championship. While Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the favorites in the event, Heppler likes the team he’ll bring with him, calling the group “one of the best teams we’ve ever had” in his 27 years at Tech. Considering that Heppler has taken 18 teams to the NCAA finals at Tech with 11 finishing in the top eight, it’s significant praise.
“I don’t mind saying that,” Heppler said. “Physically, absolutely. And have been probably as much of a pleasure to coach as any group I’ve had.”
The Jackets have won or shared the title at five tournaments in 2021-22, including a tie for their NCAA region championship at Columbus, Ohio. At the Ohio State Golf Club, Tech showed its potential with a 13-under-par team score in the second round of the event. The best of Oklahoma State’s three rounds was nine shots worse. The teams ultimately shared the region title at 10 under.
“That round that we played in Ohio – we’ve gone up there a lot of times – that round’s never been played before,” Heppler said.
It was a demonstration of an analogy that Heppler has shared with the team.
“If you’re in the shower, and the water’s cold, you’ve just got to wait until the water warms up,” said Lamprecht, a sophomore from South Africa.
That is to say, if players aren’t producing the desired shots and scores, they need to be patient and wait for their talent to click in.
“Don’t play yourself out of it before the hot water comes on,” Heppler said.
In that second round at Columbus, for instance, Heppler recalled how Lamprecht was displaying poor body language after hitting a poor shot early in the round.
On the course with him, Heppler called him on it.
“He goes, ‘Yeah, I get it,’” Heppler said. “My bad.”
After an opening-round 78, Lamprecht finished the second round in 3-under 68.
“We’ve got to match their maturity and their composure, and they’ve really bought into that,” Heppler said. “And I think we’ve come a long way with that.”
All 30 teams will play three rounds, with the top 15 teams advancing to a fourth round to be played Monday. Out of the top 15, the top eight teams after the fourth round will advance to match play that begins Tuesday.