Written by
Mike McAllister
May 15 2024
- 4 MIN
Burmester PGA story image

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Dean Burmester had never been to Kentucky until this week’s PGA Championship. That’s a shame given that he’s a self-proclaimed “whiskey guy” who no doubt would have enjoyed visiting the state’s famous distilleries.

“I like a good bourbon. I should be down here more often,” the Stinger GC star said after finishing one of his practice rounds at Valhalla Golf Club.

He’s just glad to be here, period. One of seven LIV Golf players to receive special invites from the PGA of America to play in this week’s major, Burmester is hoping to use the opportunity to take the next step in a career that’s on a definite upward path.

Having won twice in the offseason back home in South Africa – including the 113th playing of the South African Open in early December – Burmester then claimed his first LIV Golf victory on the challenging Blue Monster course in Miami.

All that success helped earn him the invite for this week. It’s just the eighth major start for the 34-year-old, and he’s never been in better form going into one.

“Last year coming into the PGA that we played up in Rochester, I felt like I was playing really well, but I hadn't really proven it,” Burmester said. “And now to have gone and achieved so much since then, I kind of feel my form is really, really good and this is probably going to be one of my better opportunities.”

Burmester made the cut a year ago and finished 54th. His best result in a major is his tie for 11th at the 2022 Open. Last year’s PGA Championship was his only major start of 2023, but he’ll have at least two this year. In addition to his Valhalla appearance, Burmester has also qualified for the Open Championship in July thanks to his win at the Joburg Open, which is part of the qualifying series for Royal Troon.

The big-hitting Burmester – he ranks fourth in the LIV Golf league for driving distance this season and ranked second in 2023 – considers the 7,609-yard Valhalla layout a good fit for his game. “The fairways are pretty wide, pretty generous. There’s not a ton of rough, so you don’t have to be the most accurate – which is good for me." If he maintains the same level of iron play and putting that he’s shown in the first half of the LIV Golf season, he should be a factor this weekend.

But just as crucial for Burmester's chances will be his maturing outlook toward majors. He admits to overpreparing in previous starts, thinking that a heightened work rate is needed in golf’s most important events. It left him worn out by the time the competitive portion of the tournament actually arrived. So, he said he’s treating this week’s PGA Championship the same as any other week. “We’ll see if that pays dividends and works out in my favor,” he said.

Certainly, he’s aware that these major starts are precious, especially given the reduced ways of gaining exemption for LIV Golf players. But he wants to avoid placing any added pressure on himself. And he’s also not trying to make any statement about where he belongs on the world stage. He doesn’t see himself as playing with a chip on his shoulder.

“I do feel like I’ve definitely performed to a high level,” he said. “The golf these days – it doesn’t really matter where you play in the world, the level of golf, quality of golf, is incredible.

“So, I feel like with those three wins, I’ve proved that I’ve played some great stuff and good golf, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can do. What everybody else decides that’s above me, that’s up to them.”

Even so, if he plays great golf this week, it could result in something special on Sunday. Although he may not go cold turkey during the week – “very, very small bourbons if I have one,” he said – a major-worthy performance would be cause for a proper celebration.

“Sunday could be big,” Burmester said. “I wouldn’t be a Stinger if I wasn’t having a drink.”

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

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