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Sam Burns breaks through on PGA Tour

Sam Burns caddie Travis Perkins win 2021 Valspar Championship
Sam Burns embraces caddie Travis Perkins on the 18th green Sunday at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course upon winning the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.

American wins 1st title in 76th career start, pulling away from Keegan Bradley for 3-stroke victory at Valspar Championship

Sam Burns pulled away from playing competitor Keegan Bradley on Sunday to win the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.

Burns shot 3-under 68 for a 17-under 267 total and three-stroke victory on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. (For scores, click here.)

“I worked so hard for this moment,” Burns said. “My whole family is here, and they sacrificed so much for this moment. It’s just a dream come true.

“Those moments in the past, they test you and you really learn a lot from them.”

The victory for Burns, 24, came in his 76th career start and in his third season on the PGA Tour. He earned $1.242 million from the $6.9 million purse and a spot in the PGA Championship later this month.

Bradley shot even-par 71 and finished at 14-under 270.

Burns and Bradley shared the 54-hole lead and started the day at 14 under and in the final pairing. They remained tied through 12 holes, but Bradley made double bogey after rinsing his tee shot at the par-3 13th hole, allowing Burns to pull ahead by two strokes. Burns sank a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th to go up by three strokes with four holes to play. Both players missed the green at the par-3 15th hole, leading to bogeys. Burns sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-4 16th hole, effectively sealing the outcome and leaving plenty of room for a bogey at the final hole.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland posted the round of the day, a 65, to surge into a tie for third place with American Cameron Tringale (68) at 13-under 271.

Burns, who grew up in Shreveport, La., turned pro in 2017 after two seasons at LSU. He appeared headed for early success, especially when he won in 2018 in only his fifth start on the Korn Ferry Tour. The next year, as a rookie on the PGA Tour, he qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs but didn't get the chance to make his postseason debut. He broke his right ankle while playing basketball with friends in Louisiana.

In the 2019-20 season, he recorded only one top-10 result in 19 starts. Burns had four top-10s in 15 starts this season, including a third place at Riviera despite a third-round 74.

"Before this moment, before I won, I really thought that I just needed to play so well and I needed to do everything perfect," Burns said. "I couldn't make a mistake, and that's just not true. I think for me today, I just knew that if I could put the ball in the right spots, with the golf course playing difficult, that I was putting it well enough that I liked my chances.

"Everybody's different, but for me it was just managing the golf course, managing my ball around the golf course and putting ourself in the right spots.

"What a fun day."

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