Burns Secures First Win & First in Four Years For Burmester
Sports writer Derek Clements reports on this weekend's action on tour including a first win for Sam Burns on the PGA Tour at the Valspar Championship and South African Dean Burmester secures his first win in four years at the Tenerife Open on the European Tour.
Success For Sam Burns at the Valspar Championship
SAM BURNS finally got the job done when he won the Valspar Championship in convincing style at a sweltering Innisbrook in Florida. Eight times this season Burns has found himself at the top of the leaderboard after every round except the one that mattered.
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 Vivint Houston Open last fall and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February.
The victory moves him into the top 50 in the world, 14th in the FedExCup 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.
No one else had much of a chance.
Max Homa briefly tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 opening hole. He didn't make another birdie the rest of the day, missing several chances around the turn and ending his hopes with a double bogey on the par-3 15th without hitting into the water. He shot 74.
Cameron Tringale was lurking but never seriously challenged. He shot 68 and shared third with Viktor Hovland, whose had a 65 but started too far back at the start of the day.
Abraham Ancer (69) finished fifth.
Burns built a quick two-shot lead on the front nine Sunday. Bradley answered with a pair of birdies, and then made a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 9 to take a one-shot lead to the back nine.
The final round started to take shape on the par-5 11th, both hitting wild tee shots and good escapes from the trees. Burns won the wedge contest, making a 15-footer for birdie, to tie for the lead. Bradley fell back with his double bogey and never caught up.
Burmester Wins in Tenerife on European Tour
DEAN BURMESTER became the fourth South African winner on the European Tour this season, shooting a sensational final round of 62 and a four-round total of 259 to claim the Tenerife Open by five shots.
It was his first victory in four years. and he follows Justin Harding, Daniel Van Tonder and Garrick Higgo into the winners' circle.
The South African entered the day at Golf Costa Adeje one off the lead but hit the front on the seventh and never looked back, moving to 25 under and holding off the challenge of Nicolai Von Dellingshausen, Adrian Meronk and Kalle Samooja.
Meronk carded a 67 and Samooja a 69 to supply the main threat throughout the day and both finished at 19 under before overnight leader Von Dellingshausen eagled the last in a 68 to leapfrog them into second.
Burmester's win at the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open in 2017 was his first on the European Tour and seventh on the Sunshine Tour, but he had not claimed a worldwide victory since.
Higgo was among a huge South African contingent waiting for Burmester as he strolled up the 18th and the popular 31-year-old was sprayed with champagne after claiming his first win outside of his home continent.
"It's four years of struggle, hard work," he said. "Jason (Reynolds, caddie) and I have been together two years - he's never won, it's his first one and he deserves it, he's been with me through thick and thin. I can go home and see my family, I'm so excited. With Covid and everything I didn't know when I was going to go home possibly so this is super emotional."
All three members of the final group took advantage of the par five first and Burmester followed it up with a tee shot to four feet at the second to join the lead, while Von Dellingshausen dropped back after missing the green.
Samooja was the solo leader as he and Von Dellingshausen birdied the third despite poor tee shots before Burmester missed a short putt for birdie on the fourth.
The leader put the pressure on as he holed from 19 feet at the par three fifth but Burmester followed him in from a third of that distance, holed a 15 footer on the next and put another tee shot inside ten feet on the par three seventh to hit the front on his own. Samooja failed to get up and down on the eighth but the lead was soon back to to one as he put an approach to 11 feet at the ninth, with Burmester making a smart two putt to save par.
Burmester then produced an excellent up-and-down after going long and left at the par five 11th and the lead was up to three shots. The gap was cut to two and the man to do it was Meronk, who was making a steady move through the field.
After taking advantage of the third, he sandwiched a 30 footer at the seventh with smart approaches to the sixth and ninth to turn in 31. A two putt at the 13th had him as the closest challenger but Burmester got up and down at the par five to re-establish his cushion.
An approach to four feet at the 15th brought Burmester another birdie and with Meronk dropping a shot ahead on the 16th after finding sand off the tee, the lead was five with three to play.
Von Dellingshausen briefly cut it to four with an eagle from the fringe at the last after bogeying the eighth and birdieing the 11th, but Burmester birdied the 18th to seal an emphatic triumph.
American John Catlin finished at 18 under, a shot clear of South Korean Yikeun Chang and Spaniard Pedro Oriol and two ahead of Higgo, home favourites Adri Arnaus and Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, and Australian Scott Hend.
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