Sam Burns faces tough Sunday, eyes first win

by 24USATVFeb. 21, 2021, 1 p.m. 53
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LOS ANGELES – Your first PGA TOUR win isn’t meant to come easy. Maybe Sam Burns can take solace in that.

Burns might spend Saturday night in Los Angeles making an offering to the golf gods given events of Saturday’s partial third round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

After playing brilliantly over the opening two rounds, the 24-year-old posted a tournament 36-hole record 12-under 130 – good enough to be five clear of his nearest challengers.

Having finished in the morning on Friday, it was a long time to be sitting on such a significant lead for someone trying to breakthrough for the first time on TOUR.

But just as he was about to pull the trigger on his weekend assault, Burns was iced by a weather horn – high winds had reached untenable speeds. With some crashing debris and balls moving on greens, a near four-hour delay was enforced leaving Burns to think on his position some more.

No bother. Just as he had done over the opening two rounds, Burns managed to look a player devoid of nerves through most of his third round when he finally got underway. That was until a late stumble opened the door for a chasing pack who until that point were desperate for a spark.

Back-to-back bogeys in fading light and tough winds meant Burns left Riviera with a somewhat sour taste in his mouth despite leading by two over England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.

A total of 43 players were unable to complete the third round on Saturday, with Burns still to play five holes. He sits 10 under with Fitzpatrick now heading to dinner with a spring in his step at 8 under (17 holes).

The Burns bogeys also lifted the spirits of FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson (13 holes) plus Max Homa (13 holes) and Wyndham Clark (15 holes) who are now just three back at 7 under. Patrick Cantlay (16 holes) is just four off the pace. Game on.

“The golf course is playing really tough. It's a hard golf course with no wind and then you get 20-plus mph gusts, and it makes it that much harder,” Burns said. “I think we did a good job of just trying to put it in the right spots and go from there.”

The highlights of his early play included an incredible chip from near the boundary fence right of the par-3 6th green that helped save a par and a sublime bunker shot on the par-4 10th that led to a birdie and the re-establishment of a four-shot lead at the top as he headed to the par-5 11th.

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