15th June 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Slam-dunk Burmy in solid US Open start
If Dean Burmester takes just a single memory from his debut major, the slam-dunk eagle on 18 in the first round yesterday at Shinnecock Hills would be enough.
But that eagle turned a so-so round into a good one – at least in the context of a brutal set-up which saw the lead shared by three players at one-under-par, and just four players at par or better. Burmester’s five-over looks impressive in that company.
“When it went in, I was relieved,” said Burmester of his eagle. “I was having a long day, you know, seven-over. Ended up five-over, not too bad. It was a lovely way to finish.”
It was an impressive hole all round, as the fans and the US media got to see Burmester at his best. He hit his drive a monstrous 411 yards, and had a gentle 117-yard lob wedge to the hole. “I was playing downwind off the left, my tee shot,” he said. “I hit a good drive down the right side which gave me a nice angle into that pin. Walked down there and we had 117 yards in the flag and it was a perfect lob wedge. So hit perfect lob wedge and slam dunked it straight in the hole.”
Asked if he knew whether he had ever hit a drive that far, Burmester laughed. “Yeah, maybe down a tar road. But, yeah, I think just the way the course is playing pretty firm and the wind, it’s certainly possible this week.”
The finish made Burmester the second-best South African in the field after Louis Oosthuizen posted a four-over 74, five shots behind Ian Poulter, Russell Henley and world number one Dustin Johnson.
Branden Grace carded six-over, Dylan Frittelli and Ernie Els eight-over, and Charl Schwartzel battled to nine-over.
Burmester’s grandstand finish means he is actually in the mix, and if he keeps things together, could get himself in contention. “That gives me some belief going in the weekend, you know,” he said. “Three under par rounds and you can still win this tournament. That’s the way it’s going and that’s the US Open. Being my first one, I’m learning and going step by step.
“I can hit a few more drivers and be quite aggressive off the tee and leave shorter clubs in. Those greens are tough, man. I’ve never played anything quite like this. Shinnecock has got some teeth and certainly showed it today. If you short-side yourself around here, you are going to get in a lot of trouble. All in all, I’m pretty happy.”
Unlike a lot of other players.