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Eye of Africa PGA Championship: day 4

BURMESTER BEGINS EUROPEAN JOURNEY IN MOROCCO

Zim’s Dean Burmester was always going to play the European Tour’s Trophée Hasan II in Morocco this week, but his victory in the Tshwane Open at the beginning of March has meant he is no longer in the field on an invitation. Source :Sunshine Tour

The Tshwane triumph gave Burmester the European Tour card he has tried so hard to win over the last two years, and it also vaulted him into the top 100 players in the world – and that gave him two ways into the field in Morocco’s capital city Rabat.

“I had planned to play in Morocco, where I was in on an invitation,” he said, “and then two events in China, which I wasn’t in yet. Now my next year on the European Tour is taken care of, and I get in to all their big events. I’m excited to go and play in their premier events.”

Burmester is one of four South Africans who were in the world’s top 100 as of Monday March 20 who have made it into the field. The others are Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Jaco van Zyl. Those four are joined by Hennie Otto, Haydn Porteous, Justin Walters, Dylan Frittelli, Jaco ahlers, Zander Lombard and Trevor Fisher Jnr, making up a big and strong South African contingent.

Burmester has been knocking on the door for international recognition for some time now, and the manner of his Tshwane Open win – he had rounds of 68, 68, 65 and 65 – suggests he is ready to ride the momentum which gave him his breakthrough to further success.

That he has been able to sit back and digest what the Tshwane win meant for him, rather than piling onto an aircraft to start playing again immediately, will work to his advantage.

He now has some European experience under the belt, and that experience is now enhanced by the knowledge that he can play the rest of the 2017 European season and the whole of the 2018 season without worrying about where his next start will be.

While Burmester will be looking to ride that Tshwane success, Van Zyl will be looking for a little redemption in Morocco. At the end of the 2011, a birdie at the second extra hole of a play-off saw David Horsey overcome Rhys Davies and Van Zyl.

The Trophée Hasan II was first played in 1971 and is Morocco’s longest running sporting event, first won by 1969 US Open champion, Orville Moody. The tournament is rich in history with no fewer than nine major champions prevailing. They are: Moody (1971), Billy Casper (1973, 75), Lee Trevino (1977), Vijay Singh (1991), Payne Stewart (1992, 93), Nick Price (1995), David Toms (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007) and Ernie Els (2008).

Jeunghun Wang announced his arrival on the European Tour stage in dramatic fashion last year as the young Korean holed three remarkable putts on the 18th, first to force a play-off with Spain’s Nacho Elvira, then to force the match to a second extra hole and finally for a thrilling maiden victory.

It was an incredible upset after Elvira looked to have sealed the title twice, but it proved to be a sign of things to come as Wang went on to claim a second successive triumph the following week in Mauritius.

Wang is in the field again this year.

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