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Back injury knocks top-ranked amateur Christo Lamprecht out of NCAA round, maybe longer

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The world’s top-ranked amateur has been knocked out of the individual portion of the NCAA Championship.

Georgia Tech senior Christo Lamprecht withdrew Saturday morning prior to teeing off in the second round at Omni La Costa because of a back injury. Yellow Jackets head coach Bruce Heppler confirmed to that Lamprecht’s back “flared up” in the middle of Lamprecht’s opening-round, 2-under 70.

The 6-foot-8 Lamprecht was subbed out for Aidan Tran, a sophomore who tied for 12th in his only start this spring, at the Calusa Cup, and who shot 5-over 77 Saturday after an even-par front nine. Tran’s score tied for the highest on the team in the second round as the Yellow Jackets shot 13 over to remain in the match-play hunt.

Toward the end of the round, Lamprecht labored down the hill to watch his teammates finish up on No. 18. As he headed back up the hill and toward the main resort building, he was in visible pain, stopping about halfway to grab his back and doubling over.

Hepple wasn’t optimistic that his star player would be able to sub back in for Sunday’s third round.

“It’s not good,” Hepple said. “I don’t see it tomorrow myself. It’s locked up, and it spasms. Sometimes that’s from being a little dehydrated and stuff; I had an issue myself in the fall during my fundraiser. And I shared with him, stress is tough. Not that I would ever get lathered up about anything, but my back gets tight when I get like that. And it’s been a long spring with a lot on the line and a couple trips to Dallas and Fort Worth to get awards and be part of that stuff, and it’s a lot, and agents... I just know that sometimes stress will certainly exacerbate your back.”

Heppler added that Lamprecht may get “needled,” and he was hopeful Lamprecht could return to the lineup on Monday.

In addition to competing for a national title this week, Lamprecht also was trying to earn himself a PGA Tour card via PGA Tour University. He needed to win at La Costa and have Stanford’s Michael Thorbjornsen finished outside the top 10; Thorbjornsen now officially will be offered a season and a half of Tour membership beginning this summer.

“I feel bad for him,” Heppler said. “Everybody mocked him for the way he played at Grayhawk. If he’d played good, ya’ll would’ve won the national championship. He’s carried that around for a year, he hears stuff. It’s his last one, he wants to play good for the guys, I think that’s been as important as the PGA Tour U stuff for him, and to be stuck here not helping them is tough.”