STINGERS PLACE 5TH IN MIAMI AFTER STRONG FINISHES FROM BURMESTER, GRACE
MIAMI – Dean Burmester and Branden Grace both ended the 2023 season by firing sparkling 5-under 67s at Trump National Doral to earn the all-South African Stingers fifth place at the LIV Golf Team Championship.
Although Charl Schwartzel, with a 73, and captain Louis Oosthuizen, with a 74, did not enjoy the smoothest of days on the challenging Blue Monster layout, the team's 7-under total was good enough to beat the sixth-placed Fireballs by three strokes.
Stinger GC's hopes of qualifying as one of the four top-tier teams for Sunday's Final stroke-play round were dashed on Saturday when they lost 3-0 to Torque GC in the match-play semifinals, which left them competing for the fifth through eighth spot on the final day.
The long-hitting Burmester set the tone for his team with a near-perfect display of golf, reeling off four birdies in a sizzling six-hole stretch from the 12th to get to 4 under. He very nearly aced the par-3 13th, where his ball settled just two feet from the cup.
Burmester picked up another shot at the par-5 first but then triple-bogeyed the par-4 third, after his tee shot found water, to fall back to 2 under. However, he regained his red-hot form as he ended his round with further birdies at the sixth, seventh and eighth.
"For 17 holes, I played exceptional, pretty much perfect," said Burmester, who recorded one podium finish among five top-10s during the LIV Golf League's regular season. "I am very proud of that, and I am happy that it was enough to get us into fifth place.
"I am proud of the way I have played this season. I didn't finish off enough but today I was proud of the way I finished off on the final day. I was pretty relaxed, to be honest. Most of the week, I probably drove it and hit my irons well enough to shoot a score like that but I didn't make any putts in the foursomes game with Charl. But today I made putts early and then I made a few coming in as well so it was nice."
Asked what led to his triple-bogey at the third, Burmester replied: "Just one bad swing on the wrong hole, unfortunately. It was probably the toughest hole on the course today with the wind and I had a block-cut there in the water. I was actually lucky I got to drop it on the cart path and then I hit a poor shot left and I was in a divot, couldn't really get it on the green. It was quite an easy triple, to be honest. People often say, 'How did you make a triple?'. Well I made a two-footer, so that's how I made a seven!
Grace rebounded from a bogey on his opening hole, the par-4 seventh, with birdies at the eighth, 12th, 16th, 18th to get to 3-under. He then picked up two more shots over his final six holes.
Oosthuizen offset bogeys at the sixth and 17th with birdies at the eighth and 16th to sit at even par after 12 holes. However, he ran up a double at the par-4 18th before dropping one more shot at the third and then making birdie at the fifth.
Schwartzel produced a roller-coaster round that included a double at the par-5 10th, bogeys at 17 and 18 and three birdies.
Overall, the Stingers can reflect back on a successful 2023 campaign that featured one team win in Tulsa, a runner-up spot and four third-place finishes in 13 starts.
Grace ended the regular season in seventh place among the money leaders, with Burmester 17th, Oosthuizen 20th and Schwartzel 37th. Grace recorded five top-10s during 2023, Burmester five, Oosthuizen three and Schwartzel one.
"I think we played solid this year," said Burmester. "We were probably up there as the most solid team for the year, us and probably the 4Aces. Unfortunately, we didn't rack up enough points when we had the opportunities. We let quite a few slip, kind of in the middle of the season. We should have finished second a couple of times but we ended up with thirds, and a couple of other things.
"There's a lot to reflect on but I am very proud of the boys. We all hung on with guys harboring injuries and Branden’s wife having a baby, so it's been a busy time but it's also been fun. I think we will come back bouncing and strong next year for sure. Yes, we are happy. A very consistent season. Hopefully we can just get a few more 'W's next year."