COMCAST BUSINESS TOP 10
Monday Finish: Five things from Valspar Championship
Burns breaks through, series of close calls steeled him for final round at Copperhead
May 03, 2021
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- Sam Burns won the 2021 Valspar Championship. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Holding steady in gusty conditions and drawing on close calls earlier this season, Sam Burns cards a final-round 68 to hold off Keegan Bradley (71) by three at the Valspar Championship.
With his first PGA TOUR win, Burns moves from 47th to 14th in the FedExCup – making him the biggest mover of the week – and becomes the second-youngest Valspar champ (24 years, 9 months, 9 days) after Jordan Spieth (21) in 2015.
Here are five stories you may have missed from the Valspar Championship.
1. Burns back amongst talented peers
After a distinguished amateur and collegiate (LSU) career, Burns turned pro but fell behind contemporaries Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, all of whom won straight away.
It wasn’t a lack of talent; instead, Burns broke his ankle playing pickup basketball with neighborhood kids in his rookie season in 2019. Although he had played well enough to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs that year, he shut it down in July.
Then he missed the cut in four of his first five starts last season.
“I wasn't ready to play yet, but I tried to play,” he said at the Valspar after converting a 54-hole lead to a victory for the first time in three tries this season. “I just played awful for a month straight and just finally was like, hey, this is not a good idea long-term, I'm only creating bad habits and my body doesn't feel good, my ankle doesn't feel good, so let's just shut it down until we feel like we're ready. And that was a big learning moment for me.”
Strange stat of the week: Burns made two eagles and two birdies to play the par-5 first hole in 6 under for the week, the most under par on that hole for anyone in Valspar Championship history.
For more on Burns, click here.
2. Thomas retakes FedExCup lead
Justin Thomas had the second-worst putting week of his career in finishing T13.
That was the bad news.
The good news is that he was aces from tee to green, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach-the-Green, and SG: Tee-to-Green. It was the first time in his career that Thomas has led the field in all three categories for the week. What’s more, he will head to this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where he captured the 2017 PGA Championship, as the FedExCup leader again, by 30 points over Bryson DeChambeau.
“I'm playing some really good golf and I'm really, really close to, I feel like, getting it going here pretty good,” Thomas said. “So, yeah, it's a good kind of bonus for a so-so week.”
Even better, he celebrated his 28th birthday last week.
For more on Thomas, click here.
3. Bradley sees silver lining
One day after the Kentucky Derby, the Valspar was a two-horse race.
Then Keegan Bradley hit what he admitted was “a terrible shot” into the water at the par-3 13th hole. The ensuing double-bogey gave Sam Burns a lead he would never relinquish, but Bradley still saw the positives after signing for an even-par 71.
Bradley’s seventh runner-up finish in 273 TOUR starts marked the third time he’s failed to close out a 54-lead/co-lead on TOUR, but his second-round 63 tied his career low on TOUR. He also climbed 30 spots to 36th in the FedExCup standings and is trending in the right direction.
“My game is in great shape,” said Bradley, a four-time TOUR winner whose most recent victory came at the 2018 BMW Championship. “I'm playing (the Wells Fargo) in Charlotte, I got the PGA coming up in a couple weeks – this is the best I've played in a very long time, even before I had won even when I had won BMW, this is the best I've felt, so I'm excited.”
4. Great run continues for Hovland
Viktor Hovland continues to enjoy a spectacular season.
Making his Valspar debut, he shot a final-round 65 – low round of the day – for a T3 finish. In the process he moved from seventh to third in the FedExCup, and to 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Not bad for a guy who is only 23 and turned pro less than two years ago.
“Obviously getting another win would be very fun,” Hovland said, “but just being consistent week in, week out is, yeah, I take a lot of satisfaction from that.”
5. Ancer heads to Quail Hollow in good form
Abraham Ancer, the breakout star of the 2019 International Presidents Cup Team, shot a final-round 69 to finish solo fifth at the Valspar. It was his career-best 11th top-25 finish in 17 starts this season. He moved up to 33rd in the FedExCup and this week heads to the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow Club, which will host the 2022 Presidents Cup.
“Just try to figure it out, just try to play it,” he said of his plans. “I only played it I think once before. It's a big golf course, so I know I have to be in the fairway almost every time to be able to have a chance for birdie, obviously, but, yeah, just to get more comfortable, get some rounds in, practice pretty much every day before the tournament starts and just get as many reps as I can.”
As for any Presidents Cup prep with the team, Ancer said it was still too early.
“Not really,” he said. “I think we just going to go do our thing. We might catch some dinner, whatever, hang out, but nothing crazy.”
COMCAST BUSINESS TOUR TOP 10
1 2 Justin Thomas 1,607 2 1 Bryson DeChambeau 1,577 3 7 Viktor Hovland 1,430 4 3 Cameron Smith 1,381 5 4 Xander Schauffele 1,369 6 5 Stewart Cink 1,348 7 6 Patrick Cantlay 1,313 8 8 Jordan Spieth 1,250 9 9 Hideki Matsuyama 1,244 10 10 Dustin Johnson 1,203
The Comcast Business TOUR TOP 10 highlights and rewards the extraordinary level of play required to earn a spot in the TOP 10 at the conclusion of the FedExCup regular season. The competition will conclude prior to the FedExCup PLAYOFFS where the top 10 FedExCup points leaders will be recognized and awarded as the most elite in golf. Week after week, shot after shot, each event matters more than ever before. Who will finish in the Comcast Business TOUR TOP 10?