Burns uses near-misses to fuel Valspar victory

Sam Burns has gone close several times this season but has now got the job done with a three-shot victory over Keegan Bradley at the Valspar Championship in Florida.

The 24-year-old finished in a share of 4th place last week at his home-state Zurich Classic in Louisiana alongside Billy Horschel.

“I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better moment just to have my wife…she’s just been there by my side for all of it. So to have her here was really special. And just a moment that we’ll get to have for the rest of our lives, we’ll get to tell our kids about one day,” said Burns, who tied the tournament 54-hole lead record alongside Keegan Bradley.

“To have my parents here, they sacrificed so much for me growing up, taking me to golf tournaments and letting me pursue my dream, really cool.”

While the three-shot winning margin looks like a runaway win, the tournament was neck and neck up until the par-3 13th hole when Bradley, who was looking for his first win in three years, put his ball in the water just short of the green for a double-bogey.

Burns then birdied the 14th hole before both players dropped a shot at the 15th. Burns got another shot back with a birdie at the 16th and while a bogey at the 18th saw him drop back to 17-under, it was enough to secure victory.

Sam Burns Sam Burns (Credit: PGA Tour)

It’s the first PGA Tour trophy for the 24-year-old since joining the tour in 2019. He graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour in his rookie year in 2018 where he recorded a win at the Savannah Golf Championship in just his fifth start.

And then came a cruel blow with the Louisiana-native breaking his right ankle in two places while playing a friendly game of basketball. He managed just one top-10 finish the next season.

In the 2020-21 season, Burns turned up the heat with T7 finishes coming at the Safeway Open and Houston Open.

WITB: Sam Burns

  • Callaway Mavrik Driver (10.5º)
  • Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero FW (17º)
  • Callaway Apex Hybrid (23º)
  • Callaway Apex TCB (4-9)
  • Callaway JAWS MD5 Raw (46, 50, 56, 60º)
  • Odyssey O-Works Black #7S Putter
  • Callaway Chrome Soft X Golf Ball

In February this year, he held the outright lead at Tiger Woods’ Genesis Invitational for 54 holes before a 74 on Saturday let the field back in the game. He finished one shot behind Max Homa and Tony Finau with Homa taking the title in a playoff.

While it’s an over-used sporting cliche, Burns said the near misses gave him a better idea of what he needed to do to win a tournament.

“Yeah, for sure. I think I always felt that you had to play perfect golf to win. I always felt that you had to play your absolute best on a Sunday to win. And after those experiences I realised that it’s not the case. I was trying to do too much.”

Only four Aussies lined up at the Innisbrook Resort with Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Davis, Cameron Percy and Rhein Gibson missing the cut.

The PGA Tour now heads to North Carolina for the $8.1 million Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow where Max Homa will defend the title he won by three shots over Joel Dahmen.