Shea & Sam: How a PGA Tour golfer and Michigan's quarterback hit it off

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — In 2014 and 2015, the same high school in Shreveport, La., laid claim to arguably the top prep quarterback and golfer in the state.

So, who was most popular walking down the hallways at Calvary Baptist Academy?

"I think," Sam Burns said, laughing, "everybody knows the answer to that."

Sam Burns, right, talks with Max Home after the 10th hole on Sunday.

In other words, it sure as heck wasn't Burns, who is in his first full season on the PGA Tour — yet not even mentioned on the school's Wikipedia page as a notable alum.

It, in fact, was Burns' good buddy — a youngster named Shea Patterson, who would go on to become the starting quarterback at Michigan. He is listed on the school's Wikipedia page.


Burns and Patterson attended high school together for two years — Patterson arrived as a sophomore, when Burns was a junior, even though they're the same age (22). They quickly formed a bond, and remain in regular contact these days.

Patterson talked to Burns earlier in the week, before the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic got underway at Detroit Golf Club. Burns finished 10 under for the week. Patterson couldn't attend, because he's at the Elite 11 camp in Dallas. Patterson's older brother, Sean Jr., did come watch Burns play early in the week.

"Shea's great," Burns said after signing his scorecard Sunday. "He's always somebody I looked up to. We hung out a lot. He was always somebody that was really passionate about what he did. He worked really hard to achieve what he has so far. I think the sky's the limit for him."

Patterson transferred from Ole Miss and is entering his second and senior season at Michigan, and the expectations are great. He led the Wolverines to a 10-3 season in 2018, and a berth in the Peach Bowl. Entering this season, he's listed on Heisman Trophy watch lists.

Shea Patterson

And the next level looms, as it should, Burns said.

"He's got a bright future," Burns said. "He's got all the talent in the world, he's done a good job surrounding himself with good people and he works hard, and that's a lot of it in itself.

"So I think another year under his belt will only make him better."

Burns does keep up with Patterson's exploits when he can, though Saturday afternoons often are filled with PGA Tour tournaments, even in the fall, the start of the golf season these days.

Burns quipped, "I wish he was at LSU, but that's a different story."

Burns, of course, went to LSU before turning pro at golf in 2017.

"I keep up with him, I try as much as I can," he said. "I always root for Shea and want the best for him, and I think he's got a bright future."

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Burns said he and Patterson never played any actual golf together, though they did slap some balls around on the range on the driving range from time to time.

Patterson definitely could excel at golf if he wanted, Burns said.

"He's obviously really athletic," Burns said. "He'd probably be good at whatever he wanted."

Burns cuts an athletic figure, too, and it shows as he's one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, at more than 300 yards. For the week, he averaged 312.1 yards on his tee shots, including 319.2 yards during his fourth round, a 2-under 70.

He's played 22 tournaments this season, and has made 15 cuts, with one third-place finish, another top 10 and three more top 25s. He didn't tear up Detroit Golf Club like so many others, but his showing was respectable. 

And it sounds like he'll be back, perhaps this time with Patterson in the gallery.

"The golf course was great, especially for a new event," Burns said. "A lot of the guys out there don't really know what to expect, but the fans were awesome this week.

"I think it'll be a great event for a long time."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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