Dean Burmester’s final round of 65 at the Joburg Open last week boosted his confidence, but it will take a change in approach for the 25-year-old to succeed at the Africa Open, which starts at East London Golf Club on Thursday.
“These are very strange conditions compared to the Highveld. The ball doesn’t go as far and the wind affects it a lot. It’s a different game down here and you have to try to hit a lot of knock down shots and soft shots. Apparently it’s going to blow all week, so it’s good practice for us,” he said.
The two-time Sunshine Tour winner has always been able to score well, courtesy of his ability to hit the ball miles. The trick this week, however, is to keep it in play.
East London Golf Club plays at 6066 metres from the tips and its main defence comes from the strong coastal breeze. The track is carved through the dunes and thick vegetation of Buffalo City and it has hosted six South African Open Championships and seven Africa Opens.
Burmester, fresh off his top-15 results at the Joburg Open and Dimension Data Pro-Am, was rearing to get the R14.5-million tournament underway.
“I played nicely and made 27 birdies last week. I made a lot of mistakes, but really put myself on the front foot and I’m looking forward to this week. On the second and third day the back nines really got me, but on the last day I shot a good 65 to get myself a decent paycheque, so I’m looking forward to carrying on that momentum,” he said.
The Africa Open has been co-sanctioned by the European an Sunshine Tours since 2010 and in the past five years has been won by South Africans. The local players were determined to keep that tradition going.
“Hopefully we can keep the flag high and keep the local talent coming through,” said Burmester. “I think it has a lot to do with the different grass and conditions down here. Hopefully a South African can come out on top this week.”