The stage is set for a thrilling final day at the Dimension Data Pro-Am with two-time DP World Tour winner Dean Burmester just one stroke behind leader Alexander Knappe at Fancourt Golf Estate.
Photo credit: Sunshine Tour
The German posted a six under par round of 66 on the Montagu course - his third successive bogey-free round – to set the target at 19 under par, before Burmester caught fire on the back nine with two eagles and three birdies to come home in 29 and join New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier in a share of second place on 18 under par, after both posting nine under par rounds of 63.
Knappe, a two-time European Challenge Tour winner, has been based an Fancourt since the middle of January and his familiarity with the surroundings are clearly paying dividends after posting his third clean round of the week.
“It was a good round,” Knappe said. “It was really hot at the end so I struggled a bit to keep my energy and focus but I’m really pleased with it.
“It’s really beautiful here. I always come to Fancourt to practice. I was here in November and December and in January, I came out here three weeks early and this is my home base, basically, in the winter and it’s just beautiful here and I love it.”
Burmester’s week began with a triple bogey seven on the opening hole of the tournament, but he responded by posting 65-63 in rounds two and three, with his third effort on the Montagu course containing a total of three eagles, including two on par fours.
“It was a good moving day, especially with a 29 back, super impressive,” Burmester said. “I played solid on the front. The bogey on nine was a little silly but from ten onwards I was pretty much flawless.
“On 16 I just hit a perfect little cut-up driver with the wind that went to about 25 feet, I had a downhill left to righter and I rolled that in. It’s surreal when I’m stood on the 17th tee with that view, taking pictures with my amateurs, and I’m thinking ‘I’ve had three eagles today and here I am with a chance after my start’.”
That start to the tournament saw last year’s Tenerife Open winner hit two balls out of bounds when trying to drive the green on the Outeniqua course, but he fought back to post a one under par round of 71 alongside two-time Major Champion Retief Goosen.
“I was still half asleep on Thursday,” he said. “I was still jet-lagged to crazy levels on Thursday morning but I actually didn’t feel as bad as my score was. I made the seven, it was a good seven, and then playing with Retief helps. You look at his mentality, he’s got one of the best mentalities in the game and he’s always had that.
“This is a prestigious event. It’s been an event on the Sunshine Tour for many, many years, I think it’s 27 years and now it’s co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, it’s always been a favourite stop of mine.
“I’ve got great memories here; it was the first cut I ever made as a professional and I always want to try and come back and support this event and support Dimension Data. To have another chance to win, I’ve had a couple of goes at it and been quite close, if I can have another go and come out on top, that would be the cherry on the cake.”
There is a four-stroke gap between Burmester and Hillier, who share second place on 18 under par, and the group of players in a share of fourth place. Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutierrez, England’s Richard Mansell and South African Jacques Blaauw all share fourth place on 14 under par, with Denmark’s Nicolai Kristensen a shot further back in seventh place.