A run of five consecutive birdies on Saturday put Dean Burmester well on his was to a fine five-under-par 67 in the third round of the 150th Open championship at the Old Course in St Andrews.
It was the best round by any of the five South Africans still in the field after the 36-hole cut, and it left him at five-under for the championship. That put him in a share of 24th, 11 shots behind the lead which was shared by Rory McIlroy and Norway’s Viktor Hovland, who put on an exhibition with a pair of 66s putting them four shots clear of their nearest pursuers, Cameron Smith of Australia and Cameron Young of the United States.
Burmester got things going with a superb approach to the first, where he made the three-footer for birdie. But he gave that shot back when he hit his tee shot into a bunker on the second, and had to hit out sideways. He played a superb approach after that to six feet, but missed the par putt.
Then came the birdie run: Two putts for birdie on the par-five fifth after a big drive; another big drive on six, and an 11-footer for birdie; a controlled tee-shot on seven, and a neat 66-yard chip leaving him a 15-footer which he made; a superb tee shot to six feet on the tough par-three eighth; and finally, he drove the green on the 352-yard ninth and two-putted from 50 feet away.
It was then steady pars all the way to the 16th, where he hit his approach from the left rough to 30 feet and made the putt for another birdie.
Inevitably, the 17th, the Road Hole, brought another bogey. He pulled his tee shot slightly left, and, from some wispy rough, he went long and left into the Swilcan Burn beyond the 18th tee. From the penalty drop, he made a very good up and down for what as eventually a good bogey.
On 18, he two-putted from inside 20 feet, narrowly missing what would have been a very encouraging birdie on the last.
He has put himself in a good position to ensure he does better than his share of 40th in the Open from last year, and, with the belief that an early tee-time on the final day should produce a good round, he can perhaps have a solid attempt at getting into the top 10 if he is able to go low again – perhaps even lower.