Burns Beats Riley in Playoff, Repeats as Winner of the Valspar Championship

Sam Burns simply repeated himself, although he had to go overtime to do it.

The 25-year-old Burns sank a 32-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to turn back rookie Davis Riley and win the Valspar Championship for the second straight year on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Burns joined Paul Casey, who won in 2018 and 2019, as the only back-to-back winners of the Valspar. Casey was entered in the tournament this week but withdrew before the start without giving an explanation.

“It just hit me and it’s crazy,” said Burns, who also won the 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship. “It just tried to play steady golf all day because on Sunday making a lot of pars usually works out well.

“I struggled in the final round of the Players last week, but put in a lot of work on Monday and it really paid off because I played so well all week. It feels so good and I’m really happy. I missed a putt to win on 18 and just wanted another shot. That last one caught the left side of the hole and went in.

“Hats off to Davis, he played great. I got the best of him today, but he’s a heck of a player.”

Burns had a clean scorecard until making his only bogey of the day at No. 17, although he made a clutch nine-foot putt to lose only one shot and posted a 69 to finish 72 holes at 17-under 267. He barely missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win in regulation.

Riley, also 25, had the 54-hole lead after a career-best 62 and bounced back from a triple-bogey 8 on the fifth hole of the final round by making three birdies the rest of the way, including a six-footer at No. 17 to tie for the lead and finished at 72.

“I got punched in the mouth early, but I bounced back and played well the rest of the way,” said Riley, who won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. “I just tried to reset, relax a little bit and was able to get the adrenaline going again.

“I played solid golf all week, hit a lot of good shots and putts. I played great golf coming in today to get into the playoff, but a triple bogey sucks and as it turned out, that hole cost me in the long run.”

Burns and Riley both made pars on the first extra hole, and after Burns sank what proved to be the winning putt, Riley missed a chip shot in an attempt to prolong the playoff.

Eighth-ranked Justin Thomas closed with a 70 and didn’t really give himself a chance to make the playoff because he missed the final green before saving par, and was one stroke back in a tie for third with Matthew NeSmith, who led after a course record 61 in the second round, but barely missed a 34-foot putt at No. 18 to get into the playoff and shot 71.

Matt Fitzpatrick of England made four birdies on the back nine in a 68 and finished three shots down in a tie for fifth with left-hander Brian Harman, who birdied the first three holes of the back nine on his way to another 68.

Rookie Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine holed out for an eagle from 71 yards on the 14th hole and added three birdies on the back nine in a 67 to wind up five behind in a tie for seventh with 2017 Valspar winner Adam Hadwin of Canada (71), Stewart Cink (68), Kevin Streelman (68) and Robert Streb (70).

Ninth-ranked Xander Schauffele, the Olympic Gold Medalist from La Jolla and San Diego State, made a double-bogey 6 on the last hole for a 71 to tie for 12th, third-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway tied for 33rd after a 71, 10th-ranked Dustin Johnson shot 69 to tie for 39th, and second-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal had a 73 to tie for 68th.

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