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Burmester wins back-to-back titles after health scare

(Photo by Mike Stobe / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Dean Burmester won back-to-back European Tour tournaments with a three-shot victory on Sunday in the South African Open, after almost pulling out in the second round due to a stomach bug.

The 34-year-old South African, winner of the Joburg Open last weekend, carded a four-under final-round 68 for his fourth European circuit triumph.

Just one shot ahead with three holes remaining in 33 Celsius (91.5 Fahrenheit) heat, Burmester birdied 16 and 17 and overcame poor tee and second shots on 18 to par the final hole.

Italian Renato Paratore (70), Swede Jesper Svensson (71), and South African Ryan van Velzen (73) shared second place in the second-oldest national championship after the British Open.

Burmester had appeared out of contention halfway through the South African Open at the Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate course 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

He just made the cut with an even-par 144 — nine shots behind then-leader Svensson — and felt ill and dizzy during the second round, with his caddie advising him to consider retiring.

“I was in terrible shape but decided to struggle on. By Saturday I felt much better and shot an unbelievable 65 to get back into contention,” said Burmester.

“This is my first time to win back-to-back titles so it is super special. I believed I was going to win after a great approach shot enabled me to birdie 16.”

The South African leg of the European Tour now moves to Leopard Creek, bordering the Kruger National Park game reserve, for the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

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