A little-known LIV Golf rookie has secured himself a spot in next year’s Open Championship after winning the British major’s first qualification event. Dean Burmester shot a bogey-free final round at the Joburg Open on Sunday to win the Sunshine Tour event by three strokes at 18 under par.
The South African resigned from both the PGA Tour and DP World Cup in order to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League in February. But he remains a member of the African Sunshine Tour and was eligible to participate in the qualification event as a result. The Joburg Open is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour.
Burmester has seen his world ranking tumble since switching to LIV golf, falling from 55th to world No. 154, but his victory in Johannesburg means that the 34-year-old will be on the tee box at Royal Troon next year.
LIV Golf events do not currently earn world ranking points, making it increasingly difficult for even the league’s top players to qualify for golf’s major championships. Alternative routes into the Open field aside from world-ranking positions include winning local qualifying and receiving an exemption at the tournament organiser’s discretion.
But that is not something Bermester will need to worry about next year even if he can hardly believe it himself.
Speaking after his Joburg Open triumph, he said: “I actually can’t describe what’s really happened. The fans are always fantastic at home in South Africa and I’m so happy to be home and playing at home and eating a bit of braai meat and having a good time.
“It sounds pretty cool to be the Joburg Open champion. I’ve been playing this event for so long and to win it is amazing. That was my goal coming home. I hadn’t won this year and have been playing well, so to come here and win a tournament in my home country in front of my home fans with some of my family here is very special.”
Burmester’s last appearance in the Open was at St Andrew’s in 2022 where Australian Cameron Smith became champion before he also defected to the breakaway LIV Golf league.
Speaking about his return to the fourth major of the season, the South African said: “I love The Open Championship. The 150th Open at St Andrews that I played in was probably the greatest spectacle that I’ve ever witnessed. They put on one of the most special shows in golf.
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“I look forward to Troon and I know it’s going to be a good test, I know it’s tough, hopefully we have decent weather. Links golf is the truest form of golf and to get through in my home country is super special. As a kid it was probably the one I wanted to win the most and hopefully I can give myself an opportunity over the four days that I’m there.”
Burmester joined Louis Oosthuizen’s Stinger GC team at the start of the year and although LIV were criticised for signing a rookie rather than a big name, the Joburg Open champion went on to finish 14th in the overall individual standings after securing five top 10 finishes.
His efforts landed him more than £4.5 million in individual prize money for the season.
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