Dean Burmester came within one slightly wayward approach shot from forcing the play-off in last year’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship to go to a second extra hole. Now a change in caddies may help him when this year’s event gets underway on Thursday at Eye of Africa Golf and Residential Estate.
‘He’s already taking all the credit,’ said Burmester ahead of Tuesday’s pro-am when he discussed his prospects with Francois Olivier on the bag in place of his father Mark, who will be looping for England’s Ross McGowan in the tournament.
As an aside, it was Burmester senior who took Zimbabwe’s first wicket in Test cricket, claiming the prized scalp of the big-hitting Indian opening batsman Ravi Shastri back in 1992 in a dreary drawn match in Harare.
Burmester brings some great form to one of South Africa’s most venerable tournaments and he’s relishing reprising his final round performance last year, when he made seven birdies on his way to a seven-under-par 65 in what was eventually a fruitless pursuit of Van Zyl, who, astonishingly, made just one bogey during the entire tournament.
‘I’ve been playing well,’ Burmester allowed of his recent run, which included fourth at the BMW SA Open and seventh at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, ‘and it’s nice to get all those results going my way.’
He played five holes at Eye of Africa on the day before the pro-am, and was struck by how different the course looked. ‘It’s not just the extra length,’ he said of the change from 6,934 metres to 7,200 metres. ‘The rough is up, and everything feels much tighter. Last year, I was able to bomb driver and it just rolled and rolled. Not that the rough and the distance is going to stop me using a driver a lot again this year. I’m hitting it straight, so I need to grab that advantage if I can.’
If he can go one better than last year, it would be a great start to four significant tournaments on the Sunshine Tour in four weeks – this event is followed by the Dimension Data Pro-Am, the Joburg Open and the Tshwane Open, all of which open significant international doors for their winners.
Burmester, who tried and barely failed to earn his card at the European Tour Qualifying School, has been trying to force his way onto the lucrative international circuit. ‘I don’t have anything set up for me yet in Europe,’ he said, ‘so I really want to win one of those tournaments.’
A win in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship could set off the kind of run which could see him fulfil his wish.