JOHANNESBURG – Shaun Norris didn’t think they would make it to the final round of the Steyn City Championship. His wife Candice was with their three-week-old baby girl Riley-Grace. Then, as he was battling with Dean Burmester for the lead and falling behind, he saw them. And it changed everything for Norris.
“As we walked onto the 13th tee box my brother (also his caddie) Kyle said to me, ‘Look up there’. It was my wife and baby daughter. I didn’t think they would be able to come. When I saw them I said to myself, ‘Ok, now you do this’,” said Norris.
He went on to birdie three of his final five holes and stage an incredible comeback against a surging Burmester who had taken the lead at this point to win his maiden DP World Tour title by three shots on 25 under par.
“I don’t often get the chance for my family to be with me, and for me to win in front of them is an absolute blessing. I can’t describe that feeling and I’m grateful that in my life this has happened for me,” said an emotional Norris.
With a final round of 70 at The Club at Steyn City on Sunday, he provided a fairytale finish to a round that began with him four shots in the lead over Burmester, then seemingly out of the tournament after a slow start, and then right back in it again on the back nine.
“Dean came out of the blocks strong and definitely made me think about it. Then he overtook me. I didn’t hit the greatest shots and didn’t give myself many chances, but I just stayed patient and eventually it worked out. The birdies were out there, I just had to stay patient. It’s so special to have finally done this,” said Norris.
Burmester took second place on 22 under par with a 69, and with his challenge ended by a double bogey on the 17th. But his class as a competitor stood out once again as after his crushing six on the 17th and while walking down the 18th still trying to process this, he visibly stopped and allowed Norris to walk ahead onto the green and to great applause. And Burmester was clapping as well.
“This has been 11 years since I won in South Africa,” said Norris.
And then came the tears.
“This is for a special person we’ve lost over the last couple of years. I’m very grateful.”
That special person was Norris’s father, Patrick, the rock in the family who passed away from cancer in 2019.
No doubt when Norris looked up on 13 and saw his wife and new-born baby, somebody else was looking down and filled with immense pride. – Michael Vlismas
Photo Credits: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.