Dean Burmester started the final round of the Polokwane Classic four strokes off the pace, but he kept a cool head and shot a Saturday 68 to surpass the leaders and clinch his maiden win.
“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad that I could finally pull it off this week. You obviously think ahead, but that’s something I’ll learn to improve. Right now I’m just happy to have the trophy in my hand,” he laughed.
The 23-year-old has been in the mix several times during his three years on tour and on Saturday those experiences kept him focused as he marched to a 12-under-par total at Polokwane Golf Club.
The Bloemfontein local made two birdies before the turn to chase down overnight leader Titch Moore, who was floundering after a bogey, bogey start.
“I saw Titch was a little jittery after his start,” said Burmester. “I just kept telling myself that with the wind blowing like it was, I just needed to focus on my pars and the birdies would come on their own.”
He turned at one-under-par for the day, by which point he shared the lead, but the cornerstone of his victory came at the 15th, where he played a phenomenal approach from the rough.
“I think 15 was big. My caddie said to play it 77 metres and I pitched it 77, so I couldn’t have hit a better one. It stopped a foot from the pin and after that I was four shots ahead,” he smiled.
He made his first drop of the day at the par-three 16th, but had already done enough hard work to ensure that runners-up Justin Harding and Merrick Bremner did not have a chance to capitalize.
A further birdie at the 17th restored Burmester’s four-shot cushion, and he went on to play the last in the style of a regular champion, finding the middle of the green before two-putting for par.
Moore failed to recover from his shaky start and made a further three bogeys on the back stretch for a final-round 77, which set him back to sole fourth on seven-under-par.
In spite of a double-bogey seven at the 12th hole, Bremner carded 67 on Saturday to take up a share of second. The in-form 27-year-old adds his second-place finish in Polokwane to a win at the Lombard Insurance classic a fortnight ago and a share of 13th at Vodacom Origins of Golf Simola last week.
Harding has also been knocking for some time and adds Saturday’s second-place result to share of fourth at the Lombard Insurance Classic and tied 10th at Simola last week.