Golf

Big-hitting treat for fans in Joburg Open

24 Th11 2021 | 04:29

This week’s R17,5-million Joburg Open on Randpark’s Firethorn course could well turn out to be the battle of the big hitters in the form of rip-it-and-grip men Wilco Nienaber and Dean Burmester. For spectators, finally allowed back in their numbers, watching these two is sure to be a treat.

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The tournament is the start of the 2022 European Tour and, looking back at last season, the 21-year-old Nienaber topped the driving distance stats on that tour with an average “bomb” of 323,31 yards.

And the 31-year-old Burmester wasn’t far behind. He averaged 318,34 yards which put him in second place. These are average distances, of course, and it’s not uncommon for this long-hitting pair to open their shoulders and approach the 400-yard mark with their bullet-like tee-shots.

Put another way, in popular parlance, when Nienaber and Burmester hit the golf ball, it stays hit.

It will be remembered that Nienaber unleashed a 439-yard monster drive on Firethorn’s par-5 fourth hole on his way to finishing second in last year’s Joburg Open. He also comes into this week’s tournament at the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit with just over R1-million in earnings, thanks mainly to his victory early in the season in the Dimension Data Pro-am.

Burmester, for his part, has been in superb form both at home and abroad in 2021. On the European Tour he won the Tenerife Open and earned nearly 950 000 euros over the duration of the season, and that translates to close to a hefty R17-million.

In the tour’s season ending DP World Tour Championship last week he played exceptionally well, shooting four straight 69s to tie for sixth on 276 alongside big names Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, behind winner Collin Morikawa. And on home soil, Burmester recently won the South African PGA Championship.

It remains to be seen who wins this week’s tournament which has attracted a strong international line-up, but a guaranteed side-show will be watching the Wilco and Dean missiles. The Joburg Open runs from Thursday to Sunday with 2000 spectators permitted each day.