In 2008 young Free State professional Dean Burmester watched Louis Oosthuizen win the Telkom PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg. Now Burmester heads into the weekend with a chance to add his own name to one of the most sought-after trophies in South African golf.
With a second successive 66 in FridayÂs second round, Burmester heads the field on 12 under par. It puts him one clear of veteran Keith Horne, who produced a sublime 63 on Friday. And there is further experience only two strokes back in the trio of James Kamte, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Alex Haindl.
ItÂs a dream position for the 22-year-old from Bloemfontein to be in, and one heÂs still trying to get used to.
ÂItÂs a shock to me. The hard work has paid off, but you know, IÂm still young and there are a lot of big guys out here. To be honest, IÂm still nervous. ItÂs a little surreal. But I know IÂm good enough to be up there with the best,Â Burmester said after his round of four birdies and an eagle.
But despite his age, Burmester showed plenty of composure over the closing holes, where he made two incredible saves for par.
On the par-five 16th, his drive kicked right and finished in a hole in the rough. ÂI just chipped it out into the rough, and then hit seven-iron into the green. I hit my putt about four feet past and luckily I made the return putt for par,Â he said.
Then on 17 he hit his drive into the water. But after a penalty drop, he hit a gap wedge to one foot and holed the putt to save par. A birdie on 18 earned him the lead, and Burmester paid tribute to his younger brother Andrew, who is his caddie this week, for the role he played over the closing stretch.
ÂIf it wasnÂt for him I donÂt think I wouldÂve done what I did. He is fantastically positive towards me. HeÂs been my saviour on the greens this week. IÂm lucky to have him on the bag.Â
While he may have dreamt of being in this position, Burmester is the first to admit that, ÂMaking dreams reality is tough.Â ItÂs a task made harder by having the experience of Horne chasing him in SaturdayÂs third round.
Horne eased his way to a 63 that was built around his putting and a switch to a belly putter for the first time this week, which yielded an impressive 25 putts on Friday.
ÂThatÂs done the trick. When you hit good shots to 10 or 15 feet and capitalise by making them, thatÂs when you make the good scores. Often you hit it that distance and only make one or two of them. This time I made a lot of them and kept the momentum going,Â he said.
But as much as the belly putter has helped him, Horne believes too much is being made about its impact in the game.
ÂYou know, players start winning with the long putter, and suddenly everybody is using it. But then Tiger Woods starts winning again, and everybody will go back to the short putter. It goes in ebbs and flows in this game.Â