CAPE TOWN - Outside of golf’s four Majors, the title every South African golfer craves is that of SA Open champion.
Two years ago at Glendower it was the turn of young Brandon Stone to lift the famous trophy and get his name mentioned alongside those of Gary Player, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman and Retief Goosen, among many other locals to have won the title.
Stone’s victory raised the hopes of the other young guns and starting on Thursday at the 107th playing of the BMW SA Open at Glendower, these men get their chance to try bag the South African “Major”.
One of the younger men who’ll be hoping to get his name on the trophy is Dean Burmester, who finished fourth last year, three shots off the pace, and winner of the Tshwane Open later in 2017. He said he couldn’t wait to tee it up.
“It was great to see Brandon win two years ago and there’s this massive desire for us young guys to also win what we consider to be our fifth Major,” said the Bloemfontein-based golfer. “That is how we think about this tournament ... all the guys want their names on the trophy, not once, but a lot; it’s why we keep coming back. This is a massive week for us.”
Burmester said his game is in good shape so early in the year and a new Taylor Made M3 driver in his bag has boosted his confidence even more. “The driver is just phenomenal, it’s a game changer,” he said. “The guys will be raving about it all year. Even my mis-hits in practice found the fairway’ it’s just amazing. So, overall, I’m feeling good about my game this week.”
Another young South African player desperate to bag the title this week is 2016 Joburg Open winner Haydn Porteous. While he missed the cut here last year, good performances at Glendower in his junior golfing days means he has a lot of experience and knowledge to fall back on.
“I won the SA Amateur title here and love the course,” he said on Tuesday. “I’m excited to be here. I finished (last year) nicely and feel, mentally and physically I’m better off than a year ago. Swing-wise, too, I’m in better shape, so I’m excited about the week ahead.”
Two-time former champion Retief Goosen will be one of the older men teeing it up on Thursday, along with tournament host Ernie Els, and he believes his knowledge of the course will also be of help over the next few days. However, the 49-year-old, two-time US Open champion also admits he’s not too sure what state his game is in.
“Coming here in the first week in January I don’t know what form I’m in,” he said. “I only played three rounds in December, but what I do have is great memories of the course. I played a lot here as a junior and also finished second at the 1994 SA Open to Clinton Whitelaw. I’ll see what happens this week ... it’s a game for youngsters now. They’re hitting it so far; that’s what you’re up against.”
Some of the other young bombers in the field this week hoping to emulate the likes of Player, Els and Goosen include Dylan Frittelli, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Oliver Bekker and also young “vets” George Coetzee, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.