PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Eight times this season, Sam Burns has been on the leaderboard after every round except for major matches. That changed eventually at the Valspar Championship.
Burns was assisted by Keegan Bradley, hitting it into the water in the 13th hole, then the 24-year-old from Louisiana took it from there, with two big birdies leading up to. 3 under 68 and a three-match victory on Sunday.
Burns won for the first time on the PGA Tour after two failures to replace the 54-hole leaders at last fall’s Houston Open and the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera in February.
The victory saw him rise to the top 50 in the world, and all this continues to mark a point in the US Open with his first Masters Tour event next spring.
Burns was wiping away tears as he tapped to find a meaningless demon in the last hole, especially when he saw his wife, parents and other family members pouring on the greens to celebrate his moment with him.
“I have worked really hard recently,”; said Burns. “They were all very selfless.”
He had reason to believe that this moment might have come sooner. Burns lost a good start at the season-opening Safeway, he closed with a 2-for-72 draw, seventh at the Houston Open. He conceded two lead goals for Riviera, one in the semi-finals.
“Those moments in the past you really learned a lot,” Burns said. “This week I tried to hold on to our process.”
Bradley and Burns tied through 36 holes and 54 holes, and they stayed that way through 12 holes in another day at the Copperhead pitch that was transformed in one swing.
Bradley came up short in par 3 13 and went into the water leading to two demons. Burns save par with an 8 foot putt to lead two shots.
Burns forwards three hits through 13 holes on Saturday and he struggles to keep the lead’s share so he knows what’s possible. This time, though, Bradley had no chance.
Burns followed up with a wedge that stopped beside the pit to touch birdies in a par 5 14.He placed Bradley with a 7 to 18 foot iron and the birdie putt that gave him the most emotion all day, which was a punch. Heavy
He led four matches with two holes in the water and the worst dangers behind him.
No one has many opportunities.
Max Homa tied for a short lead with birdies on the par-5 opening hole.He didn’t make birdies again the rest of the day, missing out on several innings in the turn, and ended up hoping with double bogeys in the par 3 15 without. Having hit it overboard, he shot 74.
Cameron Tringale was lurking. But never seriously challenged, he scored 68 goals and was third against Victor Hoveland, who had 65 but started coming back too far at the start of the day.
Abraham Anser (69) finished fifth.
Burns made a quick two-shot lead in the front nine weeks. Bradley responded with a pair of birdies, then made a birdie 15 feet from the top edge of No. 9 to score one goal into the back nine.
The final round took shape in par 5 11, both hitting the jungle shot and escaping from the tree. Burns won the wedge contest by making 15 birdies at the end to take the lead. Bradley retreated with the demon twice and never caught up.