Burmester finishes long day at PGA Championship within 4 shots of leaders heading into final round

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dean Burmester had to handle some unfinished business before making his case for the PGA Championship.

The South African began Saturday having to complete two holes of the darkness-suspended second round at Valhalla. Morning fog pushed the start back even further, but Burmester shook it all off and made eagle on the par-5 18th to cap a 6-under 65 that put him into contention heading into the third round.

He had five more birdies — along with two bogeys — on a slightly drier course and finished three rounds at 11-under 202, alone in ninth place and within four shots of Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele entering Sunday's final round. Burmester left without talking to reporters, but was pretty encouraged after finally finishing his morning session.

“This is probably the best position I’ve been in going into the week for sure,” Burmester said. “So, it’s nice to have a chance.”

An invitation from the PGA of America gave the LIV golfer an opportunity at Valhalla, and he’s making the most of it. Burmester was among 16 LIV regulars who began golf’s second major. He is now one of just two left with a shot at the Wanamaker Trophy.

The other is Bryson DeChambeau, who posted a 4-under 67 and is two shots back.

Burmester spent just four months on the PGA Tour, from September 2022 to January 2023, after earning his card. He then joined the Saudi-backed golf league, which has been at odds with the tour and has left some of the world’s top golfers on the outside looking in at majors.

The 34-year-old won consecutive Sunshine Tour events in his homeland last year before breaking through with a LIV win at Doral last month. The two wins in South Africa bumped him to No. 77 in the world rankings. However, LIV events get no ranking points.

Still, winning in South Africa — they were events co-sanctioned by the European tour — clearly helped persuade the PGA of America to give him a spot in his eighth career major.

He has shown his gratitude with one of his best efforts in a major since finishing 11th at the 2022 British Open.

Burmester was bogey-free on Friday into Saturday, carding four birdies before finishing with the eagle with an approach that stuck and rolled back toward the cup, setting up an easy tap-in.

“Missed quite a few putts early, but hung in there,” he said of his second round. “Obviously got it going around the turn. (The) birdie on 8 kind of got my round going and then birdied 10, 12 and then it started to kind of get dark. Then this morning was on and off, on and off.”

Burmester finished Saturday with an 85-foot eagle attempt up and over a slope, down to 10 feet. The birdie putt broke left and missed. But he's still in the mix — and with some recharging to do after a long, hot day.

“Recovery is probably key,” said Burmester, alluding to cold plunging and physiotherapy methods. “Under foot it’s really soft, so it makes it a longer walk, and it’s a long walk already. Yeah, those things are going to be key and conserving your energy for sure.”


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