Sunday's golf: Sam Burns' charge wins Sanderson Farms title
Jackson, Miss. — Sam Burns ran off four birdies in a six-hole stretch to start the back nine and pulled away for a 5-under 67 to win the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday for his second PGA Tour victory this year.
Against a list of contenders looking for their first win, Burns showed what it takes at the Country Club of Jackson by playing flawlessly on the back nine until it didn’t matter.
He seized control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th, a 5-iron to 15 feet that set up a two-putt birdie on the next hole and then a perfect pitch from behind the green on the reachable par-4 15th for a tap-in birdie.
Staked to a two-shot lead going down the 18th, he took a safe bogey from the greenside bunker to secure a one-shot win over Nick Watney and PGA Tour rookie Cameron Young.
Watney, coming off his worst season in more than a decade, closed with a 65 and had his best finish in more than three years.
Young’s hopes began to fade on the 14th with a clunker out of the rough into a fairway bunker that led to him having to make a 4-footer for bogey.
Still, he made a slick up-and-down from off the 18th green for par that gave him a 68 and a share of second, which sets him up well for the season. That starts with playing next week in Las Vegas instead of having to go through Monday qualifying.
“I love being in contention, I love feeling the nerves, so it was fun today. I enjoyed it, even though it might not have looked like it,” Young said. “I knew Sam was ahead of me and I had to make a couple and just didn’t, but I will another time.”
Sahith Theegala, the California rookie who began the final round with a one-shot lead, had control of the final round until he reached the back nine.
He failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the par-3 10th, missing a 7-foot putt. With a 7-iron in his hand for his second to the par-5 11th, he leaked the shot to the right and into the water, and missed a 4-foot putt to take bogey.
Two holes later, he three-putted from 18 feet for bogey. From there, it was about limiting the damage. He played the final five holes in 1 under for a 71. Theegala tied for eighth, which gets him into the field next week in Las Vegas.
Burns, the 25-year-old from Louisiana, is just starting to cash in.
He won the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in the spring and has had more chances than that throughout the year, losing a playoff in a World Golf Championship in August and coming up one shot from a playoff at Riviera in February.
Burns did well enough to earn some serious consideration from Steve Stricker as a captain’s pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. And now with his second win of the year — in his first start of the new season — Burns moves into the top 20 in the world ranking for the first time.
Celine Boutier birdied two of her last three holes for an 8-under 63 and won the ShopRite LPGA Classic when South Korea’s best two players faltered down the stretch at Galloway, New Jersey.
Starting the final round five shots behind, Boutier ran off six birdies on the front nine of the windy Bayside Course at Seaview to join a growing list of contenders.
The 27-year-old from France holed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and then birdied the par-5 18th from 5 feet to set the target at 14-under 199.
Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park, who shared the lead going into the final round, couldn’t catch her.
Danny Willett of England celebrated his birthday by closing with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrew’s, Scotland. it was his eighth professional win and his first since September 2019.