Big-hitting Dean Burmester keeps his head to win Joburg Open
The golfer shut out his rivals with three birdies over the final six holes to fire an unblemished six-under-par 64, finishing on 18 under par overall
Dean Burmester emerged victorious after an intense eight-man dust-up to win the Joburg Open by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Sunday.
When Burmester monstered a 350m drive to the edge of a par-four 13th green on Sunday, the R3.48m winner’s cheque seemed destined to carry his name.
Until then, a handful of players had battled for supremacy on a dramatic day on which contenders bounced up and down like Johannesburg mayors.
But big-hitting Burmester shut out his rivals with three birdies over the final six holes to fire an unblemished six-under-par 64, finishing on 18 under par overall.
Veteran Darren Fichardt, who shot a 64, his best round of the tournament, ended second with defending champion Dan Bradbury of England, who scored 64 despite three bogeys, third.
All three earned entries into the 2024 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
After Saturday’s third round, no-one would have predicted this top three, especially with Thriston Lawrence three shots ahead and firing like a well-tuned machine.
But Lawrence blew his three-shot lead early into the round, carding a double bogey and then a bogey on the second and third holes. Another bogey on the par-five fifth removed him from the lead.
That was the same hole where Burmester, in the same pairing, scored his first birdie of the day to take the sole lead on 13 under.
At that stage, two others had been level with them on 12 under.
Fichardt eagled the par-four third and birdied the two par-fives, five and 10, to move to 13 under.
Bradbury, who was six under after a bogey on the second hole, went on a scoring spree with consecutive birdies on four, five and six and a fourth on nine before bagging an eagle two on 11 to move to 13 under.
But Burmester’s birdie three on eight pushed him into the sole lead on 14 under.
Jacques Kruyswijk, Nikhil Rama and Zander Lombard were lurking on 12 under at one point. Young Jayden Schaper made a quick charge to 11 under before falling off the pace.
This was a real bun fight, but Burmester kept calm and patient, rolling in another birdie putt on the 10th to climb to 15 under.
Fichardt and Bradbury moved up to 14 under to keep the pressure on — and that is when Burmester responded with that monster drive on the 13th, while Rama and Kruyswijk were still putting.
He chipped it close for birdie number four.
“I hit it pin-high right a couple of days ago and I knew there wasn’t much wind so I thought I could get it pretty close to the front edge as long as I flew the bunkers with it,” Burmester said of his drive.
“With everything firming out with the heat it made sense to go for it. I could either back off and make my four and try to make a birdie somewhere else or I could push on.
“After missing a short [birdie] putt on 12 there was a bit of added incentive for sure. I put a little more behind it,” said Burmester, who spent his time before tournament moving into a new house in Miami with his wife and two children.
He was on the PGA Tour before switching to the LIV series.
Burmester arrived in the country less than a week ago, but he said Wednesday’s practice round with Charl Schwartzel, Hennie Otto and Hennie du Plessis proved useful as they showed him some lines.
Because he is living outside the country, he was also at risk of losing his Sunshine Tour playing privileges.
“The only way I could keep my tour card and keep supporting the Sunshine Tour was to win. So my goal was to come these three weeks and win.”
Burmester will tee it up in the SA Open this week, looking to make some improvements.
“I wasn’t necessarily playing some of my best golf. I was hitting it great, but I wasn’t making enough putts. I kept leaving putts short, so that’s something I’ll definitely work on.”
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