Thriston Lawrence still pinching himself as he prepares to defend Joburg Open crown

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Lawrence's victory last year may have only been achieved over 36 holes due to bad weather, but it secured a place in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews, where he practiced on the range alongside Tiger Woods. The 25-year-old finished 42nd on his major debut and went on to win his second DP World Tour title in Switzerland six weeks later as he climbed to a career-high 87th in the world. "Everything I could've dreamed of happened this year and that motivates me to achieve even more in my career," Lawrence said. "To play my first major at St Andrews, the Home of Golf, was incredible. Whatever I could've imagined it would be, it was triple that when I experienced it. I had my family with me and it was just incredible." Lawrence's victory in the Joburg Open 12 months ago came at Randpark Golf Club, but there are plenty of reminders of it at this year's new venue, just 12 miles across the city. "Driving into Houghton Golf Club and seeing the signage with my photo and the trophy, you dream about those things when you're a young golfer," Lawrence added. "A year ago I never thought this would happen. This event is where my dreams came true. It's obviously not all the dreams I want to achieve, but it's the start. "It motivates you because if you see that once you want to be there again. I want to defend my title as best as I can this week. "The most important thing for me is just to keep on doing what I did last season. A lot of golfers tend to want to change things. You obviously need to process what went wrong last season and improve on that. "But I feel if you keep it simple and keep to what worked, I think it can only go well. It's a new week and new goals, and I'll just keep on working hard and giving it my best." As with last year, three places in the 2023 Open at Royal Liverpool will be available for the top three finishers, not already exempt, on Sunday.

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