1 February 2024 – Jordan Burnand fired a final-round three-under-par 67 around Mount Edgecombe’s The Woods course to claim the biggest title of his career, the South African Stroke Play Championship, by a single shot. The 23-year almost didn’t make it to the 1st tee, though, after being ill during the week leading up to the GolfRSA flagship event.
“I played in the Gauteng North Open at Copperleaf last week and really struggled through the final 36 holes,” Jordan explained. “The doctor confirmed I had pneumonia and bronchitis; I spent two days on a drip, and the rest of the week recovering.”
Burnand didn’t touch a club for a week, but he was determined to play in the opening tournament of the GolfRSA South African Swing – the three biggest tournaments in local amateur men’s golf. His form leading into the event – a run of eight straight top-10s before the Gauteng North Open – marked the GolfRSA National Squad member as one of the favourites.
A four-under-par opening round got the GolfRSA No 2-ranked player into a share of the first-round lead.
“I didn’t touch a club until the practice round, so it was quite a surprise to shoot five under on my front nine. But I was obviously really happy about it; maybe the break did me some good,” he said.
Reality kicked in during the second round, however, as Burnand’s six-over-par 76 in strong winds saw him slip back into a share of 22nd and six shots off the pace at the halfway stage of the tournament.
A third-round 69 still left him with plenty to do and he started the final five shots back of co-leaders Dylan Kayne and Ivan Verster. However, with the winds in the afternoon gusting up to 30km per hour, Burnand knew he was in with a chance.
“I set myself a target to get to three under,” he said. “I thought that would be competitive in the conditions, and I felt confident of holding my own in the wind. We had three-hole live scoring, so I was watching what was happening behind me while I was playing.
“Coming to the back nine I was one under, but I saw that the leaders had slipped back to three under, and I thought to myself ‘three-under is still a good target’, so I set out to achieve that.”
A birdie on the short par-four 17th saw Burnand edge closer to his target, but a par on the last left him thinking he had let the tournament slip away.
“My gameplan the whole week was to lay up on 17, but I felt like I needed two birdies on the final two holes to reach my target,” he said. “So I pulled out my driver and went for it. I hit it 15 feet short of the green, chipped it and holed the putt.
“I made a good par to finish off at two under, but I felt I’d be one shy. Fortunately, with the help of the wind, I was able to get it done by one shot.”
As Kayne and Verster slipped back into the pack, Dutchman Lars van der Vight, Mount Edgecombe local Aston Wade Arthur and Humewood’s JP van der Watt emerged as the leaders of the chasing pack. However, none of them were able to find a closing birdie to match Burnand’s clubhouse target and the trio finished a stroke back, at one under par.
“It’s a huge honour to have my name on the trophy,” said Burnand.
“I was talking to Jayden Schaper a few days ago – we are from the same club, and he won the 2019 SA Stroke Play at De Zalze. I told himI wanted to do what he had done, so to have the SA Stroke Play title behind my name means a lot to me. I’ve waited a long time to get this, and it’s a great feeling to achieve it at last.
“Conditions will be very different at the South African Amateur Championship at Royal Johannesburg. We will be back at altitude where the ball flies around, there won’t be as much wind and the East is a challenging layout. At the end of the day, you still have to play 18 holes and you have to get the ball into the hole.
“The double is not unattainable. I’ll take a lot of confidence from a great week and, if I stick to my routines and my gameplan, anything is possible.”