Dean Burmester, who earned three second-place finishes on the 2011 Big Easy Tour, took the early lead at the Telkom PGA Championship with his opening 66 at the Woodmead course at Country Club Johannesburg on Thursday.
“Had a really good day out there – and it was nice starting in the morning – there was no wind and the temperature was good. I’m happy with my six-under-par. Couple of mistakes, but nobody is perfect, so I’ll take it,” he said.
He raced through his second loop in 32 strokes for a move to six-under and a morning lead of one stroke over Andrew Curlewis and local professional David Hewan, but expected scoring to become tougher as the afternoon progressed. “The wind is picking up this afternoon so I think it will be a bit tougher. But the flags were good today and the course is in great nick,” he said.
The 22-year-old related his lead to a memory he has of watching Louis Oosthuizen win the Telkom PGA Championship in 2008, and added: “I remember Louis (Oosthuizen) winning here. I came here the year that Louis won and it was just a sublime performance. It was unreal golf, and he played it over four days. I ‘m still young and hopefully I can get up there with the big guys someday. (I want to) emulate what he did, which would be awesome – it would kick start a career.”
Burmester started on the back stretch, but really got going after the turn – he birdied the first three of his second nine for a move to five-under. Further birdies at the fifth and sixth boosted him into an outright lead of two shots.
A disappointing bogey at the seventh marked the end of the fireworks from Burmester. “On the seventh I hit my drive a couple of inches off the fairway into the semi-rough on the right. I had about 145 metres to the flag. The wind was from the left and I took a full wedge at it and it drifted left. It pitched just left of the green and spun down a slope, and I had a tough downhill chip, and that pitched into a pitchmark and that stopped it. I was left with a downhill left-to-righter and unfortunately I didn’t roll it in,” he said.
Confidence has a massive impact any player’s game, and Burmester attributed much of his mental strength to golf development. “The Big Easy Tour gives a lot of us young guys the opportunity to get into a winning situation. I had a couple of second-places last year and that really boosts your confidence – just knowing that you’re there. Days like today prove how much the Big Easy Tour is helping us and the development of golf in South Africa,” he said.