Dean Burmester didn’t have much time to properly prepare for the Joburg Open, but it didn’t matter. The feeling of being back home and the passion of the fans were enough as Burmester won the Joburg Open by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Sunday.
With a final round of 64, Burmester claimed his third DP World Tour title on 18 under par and at the same time booked his place in next year’s Open at Royal Troon as the first of the top three finishers not already exempt for the Major.
“We recently bought a house in Florida and were busy moving so there wasn’t much time to prepare for this event,” said the now US-based Burmester. “But when I landed here I did some great preparation in the practice rounds and that set the tone for me. I felt comfortable on the golf course.”
His comfort level certainly showed in a final round where overnight leader Thriston Lawrence suddenly struggled with his game on his way to a 75 and a share of seventh place, Darren Fichardt came charging through the field with a 64 to finish second on 15 under par, and defending champion Dan Bradbury also made a run at it with a 64 of his own to finish third on 13 under par. Fichardt and Bradbury took the other two spots on offer for the 2024 Open Championship.
“It sounds pretty cool to be the Joburg Open champion,” said Burmester. “I’ve been playing this event for so long and to win it is amazing. That was my goal coming home. I hadn’t won this year and have been playing well, so to come here and win a tournament in my home country in front of my home fans with some of my family here is very special.”
Having started his career on the Sunshine Tour with his first title in the 2013 Polokwane Classic, Burmester paid special tribute to a Tour which remains close to his heart.
“The Sunshine Tour is a special place and there are a lot of friends here. It’s a great breeding ground for world golf. I’m glad to be here and be home. This is a beautiful game. Golf is growing fast. There were so many kids out here today and if this can make one kid take up golf, then it’s worth it. I was once that kid at a Sunshine Tour event in Bloemfontein standing next to a scoreboard changing scores. And now here I am today. So I want to now do my part and give back as well.”
In his own way, that was another motivation for him wanting to win this week.
“I knew what was at stake for me. My Sunshine Tour category was running out and the only way I could keep my card and keep supporting the Sunshine Tour was to win. That was my goal coming back here. I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud to be the Joburg Open champion.”