Burmester Chasing Down Third Straight European Tour Title

MALELANE, South Africa (AP) — Dean Burmester’s bid for a third straight victory on the European tour got off to a solid start after the South African golfer shot 3-under 69 in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to lie four strokes off first-round leader Robin Williams on Thursday.

The No. 77-ranked Burmester is coming off winning back-to-back titles in his home country — at the Joburg Open two weeks ago and the South African Open Championship, also in Johannesburg, last week.

Starting at No. 10, Burmester — who also plays on the LIV Golf circuit — had four birdies and a bogey around Leopard Creek Golf Club in Malelane.

The last player to win three consecutive events on the European tour was the late Seve Ballesteros in 1986 (Irish Open, Monte Carlo Open and French Open). In 2014, Rory McIlroy won on three consecutive appearances — a run that included back-to-back majors, at the British Open and the PGA Championship — over a monthlong period.

Williams, a South African ranked No. 924, had eight birdies in his 7-under 65 — including four in his first seven holes after also starting at No. 10. Another home player, Jayden Schaper, was tied for second place on 6 under with Manuel Elvira.

Seven of the last eight winners of the Alfred Dunhill Championship have been South African players, including defending champion Ockie Strydom. He started his title defense with a round of 71 after dropping three shots in his final three holes.

There is another tournament in Africa — the Mauritius Open next week — before the tour takes a break until mid-January ahead of events in the Gulf region.