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Burmester looks to build on Dubai form at SA Open

Dean Burmester starts the BMW SA Open proudly hosted by the City of Ekuhuleni with a sense of confidence that will make him one of the favourites in the tournament starting at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.

Burmester finished fourth last year behind the epic play-off win by Graeme Storm over Rory McIlroy, went on to win his maiden European Tour event at the Tshwane Open and then chased John Rahm all the way home in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai where he shared fourth with compatriot Dylan Frittelli, as well as Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, two shots off the lead.

‘My finish in Dubai gave me a lot of confidence,’ he said. ‘It was really eye-opening for me. I never really thought I was in that league and it’s nice to kind of feel that I belong. A lot of guys had been telling me that for a long time and it’s nice to kind of know that yourself. There’s definitely a sense of belief and confidence than there was this time a year ago.’

That confidence should help him overcome the finish he had at Glendower last year, when he made bogey on the par-three 14th and then a double-bogey on the par-three 17th. Those three dropped shots turned out to be the difference between fourth place and a spot in the Storm-McIlroy play-off.

‘I went for a pin I shouldn’t have gone for on 17, plugged it in the bunker, and tried to get cute with it and hit the next shot about half a foot,’ remembered Burmester. ‘I don’t want to remember things like that but I can tell you now, I’m not going to repeat the same mistake if I come down the stretch in contention.

‘I didn’t really think I had a chance till I birdied 15, birdied 16 and then I thought if I birdie the next one, I might be in with an outside shot the way the guys were going. You know, when I got in the clubhouse, I was kicking myself a little bit. But that’s golf and you learn from your mistakes and hopefully I won’t be in that situation and hopefully I’ll be coming down with a little bit of a lead.’

With the stretch as familiar as the rest of the course, Burmester is looking forward to the challenge the conditions with present. ‘It’s playing fairly similar to last year, I’d say. Except around the greens where I think the rough is up a little more. So, you’re going to have to be more precise. It’s going to be hard figuring out how far the ball is going to fly and try to hit it high and in the middle of the green at times. I think if you do go long, I think it’s going to punish you big time,’ he said.

The tournament means a lot to South African players, and a win for Burmester would be a significant achievement to a career which already boasts seven Sunshine Tour titles. ‘For us, this is our fifth major,’ he said. ‘That’s certainly how I think about it and I know a lot of the other guys think that way. Your national open will always be your fifth major and the guys want to get their names on that trophy. Not only once, but a lot and that’s why, I think, we keep coming back and we will keep coming back.’

His immediate goal, however, will be to channel his Dubai form, starting on Thursday.

Picture of Burmester courtesy of Luke Walker/Gallo Images