Dean Burmester was in danger of sliding out of contention in the R700,000 Sun Windmill Challenge on Friday when he made his third bogey. But he rallied with a remarkable home stretch which included five birdies and an eagle in seven holes to win by four strokes.
Before he made the first of those birdies – a chip-in on the 12th – he trailed Callum Mowat by two, but his closing salvo saw Burmester blow by the leader on his way to a seven-under-par 65. Mowat’s 69 was good for second, while Makhetha Mazibuko’s 67 was good for third. Overnight leader Rourke van der Spuy was fourth after his one-over 73, and Jared Harvey finished fifth.
“I was under the gun, and that stretch has got to rank right up there with the best golf I’ve ever played,” said Burmester.
“After I made a bogey on 11 – and it was a good bogey, my caddie and I walked up the fairway on 12 and he said it was going to be the last hole with that ball. He said I should make a birdie with that and then see what happens with a new one.
“I didn’t hit a great second shot there, but I knew exactly where I wanted to pitch the third. When I saw it bounce the first time, I knew it was going to have a chance. Then when it was about six foot short, I started walking it in and I picked it up at the bottom.”
He had good birdies on 13 and 14, and then the birdie on 15 saw him break clear and head for the winning line. He hit a characteristically long drive, and nestled the approach just right of the pin at the back of the green. He rolled the 15-footer in, and he was on his way. “The birdie on 16 just put the nail in the coffin,” he added.
Caddie Richard Maree said to him after he made par on 17 that he could make up for missing birdie there by making eagle on 18. Burmesteer supplied the first part of that equation with yet another monster drive, but he found his approach to the 18th green blocked by overhanging branches. So he punched a three-iron low towards the pin, and the ball stopped 15 feet past the pin on the edge of the green. “That was pretty good,” he allowed. “We decided if I pitch it with 100 left, it should run up somewhere close. It just kept going and going, and ended up on the right level of the green.
“I left myself with a makeable eagle putt, and it ended up turning in through the back door.”
It gave Burmester his third win of the year after the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open and the Lombard Insurance Classic.
“When I woke up this morning, I knew I had a good chance of becoming the first guy to win for the third time on the Sunshine Tour this year,” he said, “and walking up 18, I was aware that I was beating guys like George Coetzee, Jean Hugo and Vaughn Groenewald to the third win and that was pretty special.”
Special enough to solidify his grip on top spot in the Chase to the Investec Cup and on fifth spot on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.