Shinnecock Hills – When he tees up at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course on Thursday, South Africa’s Dean Burmester will not only make his first US Open appearance, but also make his Major debut.
Burmester is well known on the Sunshine Tour and European Tour events. He bagged his maiden European win at the Tshwane Open last year to add to his six Sunshine Tour victories.
Despite being an unknown to the American public, Burmester earned his spot at this week’s second Major of the year.
He was the sole South African golfer to qualify at the US Open Sectional Qualifying event at Walton Heath last week.
Burmester is one of six South Africans in the field and looking forward to fulfilling his childhood dream.
“Yeah, I’m obviously excited, I haven’t played one before and it’s kind of a childhood dream just to play. The preparation has gone well and we’re looking forward to the next four days,” Burmester told Sport24 at Shinnecock Hills.
“In the back of your mind it’s always kind of like a goal, the dream is a reality now. We got through to the qualifier and that was pretty cool.
“You know when I got the invitation, it was kind of surreal and I had to pinch myself when I got here on Saturday and played my first nine holes.
“But as the week has gone on, it’s grown on me and I’ve become pretty comfortable.”
Shinnecock Hills Golf Course has gone through some alterations since last hosting the US Open in 2004 – when South Africa’s very own Retief Goosen lifted the trophy.
The United States Golf Association decided to widen the fairways, which means Shinnecock will play 449 yards longer than it did 14 years ago.
“Yeah, it’s kind of tough. The rough is really rough and sticky and long,” said Burmester, when asked about the course layout.
“You have to hit a lot of fairways just to get yourself into position to put it on the green. But then you’ve got the green complex, where there are run offs – they’re kind of mushroom shaped.
“If you’re not hitting the green consistently you’re going to get in a lot of trouble.”
Burmester’s expectation heading into Shinnecock is simple.
“Everyone tees off at the US Open to win but realistically this is my first one and I’m just going to try and enjoy the experience as much as I can and whatever outcome comes Sunday it’ll be great,” he said.
Burmester opens his campaign alongside Americans Sam Burns and Brian Gay at 18:30 (SA time on Thursday).
— Sport24News (@Sport24news) June 13, 2018