This week Dean Burmester will defend his title at the Sun City Challenge, where things are vastly different from 2014 for the 26-year-old, who has become a husband, father, and leads the Chase to the Investec Cup.
“It’s absolutely amazing to see how things have changed. A year ago we were still planning our wedding and pulling off the win was so special. Now I’m married and my son, Jordan, has just been born, which has totally changed our life and perspective,” he said.
The Bloemfontein local has developed as a player over the last 12 months, during which time he’s lifted three Sunshine Tour trophies and recorded a second-place result at the Aegean Airlines Challenge Tour.
“My goals have shifted quite drastically since the beginning of the year. This season has helped me to realise that I can really compete against the big names and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. I’d like to start in South Africa and try to play my way into the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and hopefully I can also play some events abroad,” he said.
In terms of consistency, Burmester tops the South African charts this year, having made the top 20 at all 10 of the Sunshine Tour events that he’s played in.
At the big events of summer he put in some good showings, most notably tying for third place at the Tshwane Open and sharing eighth place at the Investec Cup.
During the final round of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open in April he hit a superb wedge approach into the 18th green at Royal Harare, which sealed his victory over Adilson da Silva. It was a big moment for the young gun, who rose to the occasion.
“If you had told me two years ago that I’d be a three-time champ I would have laughed it off,” Burmester said while holding the Zimbabwe Open trophy back in April. “But now it’s real and we’ll be looking to bigger and better things. This is the biggest win in my career and a massive stepping stone and hopefully we can kick on to Europe and America.”
One month later he set a new record for the lowest winning total at the Lombard Insurance Classic, wrapping up 54 holes in 23-under-par. He finished the week five shots clear of his nearest rivals, Sunshine Tour veterans Keith Horne and Peter Karmis.
There has been a two month break over the winter period and during that time Burmester’s wife, Mel, gave birth to his first child. The family have all made the trip to Sun City this week.
Burmester has matured in many ways and, although he will need to shake off the rust this week, has a serious chance of defending his title and becoming a five-time winner on tour.
“I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can come back to defend. Everyone has been off during this break, so it levels the playing fields. I’ve kept busy by competing in some Challenge Tour events overseas, but it is tough to mentally prepare. I just have to make sure I’m ready and focused by the time I get the first tee,” he said.