By Guy Hawthorne (for Michael Vlismas Media)
Bloemfontein-based professional golfer Dean Burmester was a late inclusion into this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung, and he opened with a 67 to be three shots off the first round lead on Thursday.
Jacquin Hess and Drikus van der Walt share the lead on eight under par.
Being back in the Free State certainly inspired Burmester, who has been experiencing the challenge of playing on the European Challenge Tour. He should have teed it up in Kazakhstan this week, but had Visa trouble.
“It’s a pity about Kazakhstan. It was a really important event for me on the Challenge Tour, being the biggest event of the year, and unfortunately my visa wasn’t granted because nobody managed to register us on that side,” said Burmester.
“It’s good to find some form again after a bit of a dip. The two weeks I played in Durban recently didn’t go my way but I played nicely today. I had just the one bogey, which is a bit unfortunate, but these things happen.”
Burmester admits it is difficult playing in foreign countries and he feels it is the reason many South Africans struggle on the European Challenge Tour.
“The Challenge Tour is a really, really hard tour. Those guys are so good in those conditions. We are blessed to have great weather in South Africa and when you get there and you see the wind and the rain, it puts quite a lot of the guys off.
“Obviously the grass is also different. It’s hard to judge chip shots, especially, whereas those guys have been doing it their whole lives.
“The food is different, as are the hotels. And there are many different languages. That makes it hard for guys to travel.”
Trying to earn a living on the local Sunshine Tour while striving for recognition abroad requires something of a juggling act.
Burmester won in Zimbabwe in April and Swaziland in May on the Sunshine Tour and also had a second on the European Challenge Tour in Austria in July.
“It’s not easy doing both. I had a good start to this year at home. The two wins put it above anything I was expecting to do. On the Challenge Tour I had the second place and two top 30s after that, so I couldn’t really get things going.
“I’m not playing badly. I’ve just got to get four rounds together and I should be there. I’m heading to Italy and Ireland in a couple of weeks after Bloemfontein, so we’ll see how they go.”
For now Burmester can spend some time in familiar surroundings, with this week’s event followed by another in his hometown of Bloemfontein.
Along with George Coetzee and Vaughn Groenewald, Burmester is one of three players who can win for the third time on the Sunshine Tour this year.
“A lot of guys want to win three in one year. Three wins in a year establishes how well you’ve played throughout the season. Missing cuts, not missing cuts doesn’t matter … the wins are more special than making every cut so that third one is hopefully around the corner,” he said.