Dean Burmester came within a shot of a top-10 finish in the 150th Open Championship on Sunday when he nearly made what would have been a rare par for him on the 17th at the Old Course at St Andrews.
Burmester had a weekend to savour with a five-under 67 on Saturday and a superb six-under 66 in the closing round, as he finished in a share of 11th – comfortably his best finish in a major championship.
Having made the cut on the number at level-par through 36 holes, he finished on 11-under, nine shots behind the Champion Golfer of the Year, Cameron Smith of Australia.
“The Road Hole got me all week, but I learned from it,” said Burmester of the four bogeys he made on the 17th. “We’ve got to come back here in October for the Dunhill Links, so we’re going to learn something from that, and if it’s how to play the Road Hole, then that’s great.
“I learned never to give up, honestly. There was a stage there on Friday when we had the wind switch and I was just playing into the wind, the back nine. It was just so hard, and I was grinding it out. Never gave up and birdied the last to make the cut on the number.
“So anything’s possible, just never give up. I think that’s just a good mantra for me.”
Even with the bogey on 17, it was a stunning effort from Burmester, characterised by the eagle-three he made on the fifth. He hit his drive 355 yards to the right side of the fairway, and then rifled a 240-yard approach pin-high, and just right of the green. He used his putter from there, sinking the 55-footer.
The eagle came after he made birdie on the third. He added birdies on the tough par-three eighth, the 10th, 13th and 15th. If he could be disappointed with anything, it would be missing out on birdie on the drivable par-four ninth after he hit his tee-shot onto the green and three-putting, and two-putting from 15 feet on the par-five 14th, which should have been a birdie all week for him.
“I played well, made great putts early on,” he said. “Momentum was with me. I kept that throughout the day. I took that momentum and confidence into yesterday and shot five-under. And today I shot six-under.
“I’m really happy with the way I progressed and how comfortable I felt out there. I didn’t feel out of place. And that to me says a lot. And maybe one day I can lift one of these things.”
Burmester was born in Zimbabwe but now competes for South Africa as a professional golfer.
Sporting talent runs in the family for Burmester – his father played international cricket for Zimbabwe while his mother Mitchelle played for the Southern African country as an amateur and holds the women’s course record at Royal Harare Golf Club.