May 3rd, 2021
Burns finally converts at Valspar Championship
American hold his nerve to seal a three-shot victory in Tampa
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Burns, who shared the overnight lead with Bradley, had twice led this season after three rounds but failed to convert his advantage. He led both the Houston Open in November and the Genesis Invitational in February; finishing tied seventh and third. However, on Sunday, the 24-year-old finally got the job done.
“I think it makes it -- you have a better understanding of what it takes,” said Burns. “And I think having those past chances that I wasn’t able to convert, I think, it got me ready for this moment.”
“I think I always felt that you had to play perfect golf to win. I always felt that you had to play your absolute best on a Sunday to win. And after those experiences I realized that it’s not the case. I was trying to do too much.”
Burns trailed Bradley by a shot at the turn but drew level with a birdie at the par five 11th. Then, after a disastrous double-bogey for Bradley at the 14th, he found the water; Burns surged into a three shot lead when he birdied the 14th.
Burns becomes the fifth player to pick up his first Tour title at the Valspar Championship and he is the fourth first-time winner this season. His third at the Genesis Invitational having been his best career finish to date.
Keegan Bradley, following the double bogey at the 13th finished with a level par 71 to sit alone in second place.
“I just hit a terrible shot,” Bradley said about his eight-iron shot.
“I hadn’t hit a really bad shot all week and you just can’t hit it there, obviously, but you can’t hit it right of the flag. And I just came out of it a little bit, it got gobbled up by the wind. If it goes another yard, it might have been in that bunker, but it was a bummer.”
34-year-old Bradley was looking for his fifth PGA Tour victory but had to settle for his seventh runner-up finish, the last being at the 2019 Travelers Championship.
Viktor Hovland of Norway and American Cameron Tringale finished in a tie for third one shot back from Bradley on thirteen-under after rounds of 65 and 68. Mexican Abraham Ancer was a further shot back in sole ownership of fifth following his closing 69.
Max Homa, who started Sunday just one shot back from Burns and Bradley, shared the lead after an opening birdie but it was downhill from there. The world number 41 and winner of the Genesis Invitational in February slumped to a final round 74 for a share of sixth place.
Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey carded final rounds of 70 and 68 respectively to finish tied twenty-first in a large group, including Scotland’s Russell Knox (70).