Eight times this season, Sam Burns has been atop the leaderboard after every round except the one that mattered. That changed, finally, at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Burns got some help from Keegan Bradley hitting into the water on the 13th hole, and then the 24-year-old from Louisiana took it from there with two big birdies that led to a 3-under 68 and a three-shot victory Sunday.
Burns won for the first time on the PGA Tour after twice failing to convert 54-hole leads in the Houston Open last fall and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February.
The victory moves him into the top 50 in the world and all but assures a spot in the U.S. Open, along with his first trip to the Masters next spring.
Burns was wiping away tears when he tapped in for a meaningless bogey on the final hole, especially to see his wife, parents and other family members pour onto the green to celebrate the moment with him.
“I’ve worked so hard for this moment,” Burns said. “They’ve all sacrificed so much.”
He had reason to believe this moment could have come sooner. Burns wasted a good start at the season-opening Safeway Open. He closed with a 2-over 72 to tie for seventh in the Houston Open. He lost a two-shot lead at Riviera, coming up one shot short of a playoff.
“Those moments in the past, you really learn a lot,” Burns said. “This week coming down the stretch, I tried to stick to our process.”
Bradley and Burns were tied through 36 holes and 54 holes, and they stayed that way through 12 holes on another blistering day at the Copperhead course. That changed with one swing.
Bradley came up well short on the par-3 13th and went into the water, leading to double bogey. Burns saved par with an 8-foot putt for a two-shot lead.
Burns was three shots ahead through 13 holes on Saturday and he struggled to retain a share of the lead, so he knew what was possible. This time, though, Bradley had no chance.
Burns followed with a wedge that stopped next to the hole for a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th. He put Bradley away with a 7-iron to 18 feet and a birdie putt that brought the most emotion he showed all day, a hard fist slam.
He had a four-shot lead with two holes to play, the water and worst hazards behind him.
Hyo Joo Kim claims LPGA win
Hyo Joo Kim shot a final-round 8-under 64 and then watched from the comfort of the clubhouse as Hannah Green bogeyed her final two holes to hand Kim a one-stroke victory during the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore.
Kim sat in the dining room at Sentosa Golf Club and munched on some late afternoon snacks while watching Green take a one-stroke lead to the 17th. But Green three-putted the par-3 hole to leave Kim tied for the lead. Then the Australian bogeyed the 18th after she missed the green and a comeback putt for par after a poor chip.
Kim finished with a 72-hole total of 17-under 271. It was Kim’s fourth LPGA title, including a major at the 2014 Evian Championship, and her first LPGA Tour win in five years.
Green’s 69 left her in second place. Three players were tied for third — Patty Tavatanakit shot 65 and third-round leader Lin Xiyu and world No. 2 Inbee Park had 70s to finish two strokes behind.
Dean Burmester ends drought
Dean Burmester ended a four-year winless streak in style with a five-stroke victory at the Tenerife Open in Spain.
The South African closed with a bogey-free 9-under 62 that left him at 25 under for the tournament and secured his first victory since the Tshwane Open in 2017.
The 31-year-old Burmester said it had been “four years of struggle, of hard work.”
Germany’s Nicolai von Dellingshausen (68) was second.
Kalle Samooja of Finland and Adrian Meronk of Poland tied for third at 19 under, one stroke ahead of American John Catlin.