By Michael Vlismas
GEORGE, Western Cape – Dean Burmester has aspirations of becoming South Africa’s next Major champion, and on Saturday in the third round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am he showed the kind of game and mental strength that will get him there.
Burmester signed for a 63 on the Montagu course – including three eagles, with two of them coming on a back nine of 29 and on the par-four 11th and 16th holes – to put him only one shot off the 19-under-par lead of Germany’s Alexander Knappe going into Sunday’s final round. The German posted a 66 on the same course.
“That was fun. It’s turned out pretty good. It was a good moving day. It was kind of surreal standing on the 17thtee and thinking I’ve had three eagles in this round, and after the start I had on Thursday here I am now in with a chance,” he said.
Indeed, it’s a remarkable turnaround for Burmester after he made a triple bogey seven on the first hole on Thursday when he hit two tee shots out of bounds.
“I was still half asleep coming in jet-lagged from America (where he played in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour). Playing with Retief Goosen that first round certainly helped. He’s got one of the best mental games out there. He’s always had that. I fed off that and managed to keep grinding and finished that round under par.”
After turning in two under for his round on Saturday, Burmester says he knew he needed something special to put him in with a chance of winning a tournament he’s always cherished and where he finished second in 2016.
“I thought I was going to have to have a good back nine to stand a chance in this tournament and I managed to throw in a 29 there.”
It was a back nine underpinned by those two eagles. On the par-four 11th he chipped in with a lob wedge, and on the par-four 16th he drove the green and holed a 25-foot putt.
“This is a tournament where I made my first cut as a professional, so I have great memories of this and hopefully on the back nine on Sunday I’ve got a chance.”
He currently shares second place with New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier, who signed for a 63 on the Outeniqua course.
And ahead of them, Knappe is equally driven to claim a title in a part of the world he calls his second home.
“Fancourt is my home base in the winter. I practice here and I love it,” he said.