PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Sam Burns figured all these shut calls would ultimately educate him win on the PGA Tour.
Twice this season, he had the 54-hole lead and did not convert. Six different occasions, he was atop the leaderboard on the finish of a spherical, simply by no means the spherical that mattered — Sunday’s.
That modified, lastly, on the Valspar Championship. And the lesson was not what he anticipated.
“I at all times felt that you simply needed to play good golf to win,” Burns stated after a 3-under 68 for a three-shot victory. “I at all times felt that you simply needed to play your very best on a Sunday to win. And after these experiences, I noticed that it isn’t the case. I used to be attempting to do an excessive amount of.”
He did simply sufficient — and bought some assist from Keegan Bradley.
Tied for the lead with six holes to play, Bradley hit an 8-iron brief and into the water for a double bogey on the par-3 thirteenth gap, and Burns put him away with two large birdies and a celebration he had purpose to really feel was a very long time coming.
Burns was all smiles arising the 18th gap with a four-shot lead, and he was preventing again tears when his spouse, dad and mom and different household spilled onto the inexperienced after he gained.
“I’ve labored so onerous for this second,” Burns stated. “They’ve all sacrificed a lot.”
The victory strikes him to No. 44 on the planet and all however assures the 24-year-old from Louisiana a spot within the U.S. Open, alongside along with his first journey to the Masters subsequent spring.
Bradley and Burns had been tied by way of 36 holes and 54 holes, and so they stayed that means by way of 12 holes on one other blistering day on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.
That modified with one swing.
Bradley got here up nicely brief on the par-3 thirteenth and went into the water, resulting in double bogey. Burns saved par with an 8-foot putt for a two-shot lead.
“I simply hit a horrible shot,” Bradley stated. “I hadn’t hit a very dangerous shot all week, and also you simply cannot hit it there, clearly, however you possibly can’t hit it proper of the flag. And I simply got here out of it just a little bit; it bought wolfed up by the wind. If it goes one other yard, it might need been in that bunker, nevertheless it was a bummer.”
Burns was three photographs forward by way of 13 holes on Saturday, and he struggled to retain a share of the lead, so he knew what was attainable. This time, although, Bradley had no likelihood.
Bradley needed to lay up from the tough on the par-5 14th, and Burns did not have time to ponder his subsequent shot. His caddie, Travis Perkins, determined for him.
“We’re strolling over to the ball and Travis says, ‘Tree’s in your means; we’re laying up.’ And I am like, ‘Properly, what about this and that?’ And he is like, ‘Nope, you bought 180 to this quantity proper there, it is an ideal 7-iron, that is your line,”’ Burns stated.
He hit lob wedge to a foot for birdie and was on his means.
“He is aware of that I am at all times attempting to go pedal down. after which in that scenario, that simply wasn’t the play,” Burns stated. “A yr in the past, he wouldn’t have executed that, and at present, he did. And it is one of many causes that we had been in a position to win at present.”
He had purpose to consider this second might have come sooner. Burns wasted an excellent begin on the season-opening Safeway Open. He closed with a 2-over 72 to tie for seventh within the Houston Open. He misplaced a two-shot lead at Riviera, arising one shot wanting a playoff.
“These moments prior to now, you actually study rather a lot,” Burns stated.
He put Bradley away with an 18-foot birdie putt on the sixteenth gap and a uncommon present of emotion, slamming his fist after it dropped. He had a four-shot lead with two holes to play, the water and worst of the hazards behind him.
Nobody else had a lot of an opportunity.
Max Homa briefly tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 opening gap. He did not make one other birdie the remainder of the day, lacking a number of possibilities across the flip and ending his hopes with a double bogey on the par-3 fifteenth with out hitting into the water. He shot 74.
Abraham Ancer (69) completed fifth.
Burns constructed a fast, two-shot lead on the entrance 9 on Sunday. Bradley answered with a pair of birdies then made a 15-foot birdie putt from the perimeter on No. 9 to take a one-shot result in the again 9.
Burns caught him with a birdie on the eleventh. The remainder of the day, he wasn’t good. He did not need to be to win.