American Sam Burns, 24, fulfilled his dream of claiming the first PGA Tour title after staying strong in the fourth round of the Valspar Championship. by delivering a 68-hit card (-3) and finishing with 267 (-17), three less than his compatriot Keegan Bradley (270, -14), second.
Burns, so far this season, had already been in the lead eight times after a round, but never in the decisive one, the fourth on Sunday.
Everything changed at the Cooperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, where he was from start to finish the best player, He dominated all shots, but especially when he hit the green with his putt.
It is true that Burns got some help from Bradley hitting the water on the 13th hole, and then the Louisiana player took it from there with two big deciding birdies.
Burns first won on the PGA Tour after failing twice to convert the 54-hole courses at the Houston Open last fall and at the Genesis Invitational in Riviera, in February of this year.
The victory places him in the top 50 in the world and nearly assures him a spot at the US Open., along with his first trip to the Masters next spring.
Bradley and Burns were tied through 36 holes and 54 holes, and stayed that way through 12 holes on another overwhelming day in the Copperhead field. That changed with a single hit.
Bradley came up very short on par 3 on 13 and went overboard, causing a double bogey. Burns saved par with a putt of just over six feet for a two-shot lead.
Burns was three shots ahead through 13 holes on Saturday and struggled to retain a share of the lead, so he knew what was possible. This time, however, Bradley didn’t stand a chance.
Norwegian Viktor Hovland and American Cameron Tringale shared third place with a record of 271 strokes (-13), while the Mexican Abraham Ancer finished in fifth place after delivering a card of 69 strokes (-2) and achieved a cumulative of 272 (-12).
The Chilean Joaquín Niemann had the worst result since the tournament began by not finding precision with his shots and finished the round with 72 impacts (+1) that cost him to lose four positions and finish eighth (275, -9), a place he shared with two other players.
While the Colombian Camilo Villegas delivered a signed card of 68 strokes (-3), he already did it in the second round, and rallied 12 positions that allowed him to finish in eleventh place (276, -8) along with American Brandt Snedeker.
Another Latin American golfer who made the cut, the Venezuelan Jhonathan Vegas, did not have the Villegas touch and handed over a signed card of 72 (+1) which gave him a cumulative 282 (-2) and finished in the forty-eighth position that he shared with five other players.