Golf Asia


Burns Successful­ly Defends Valspar Title With Lengthy Playoff Birdie


Sam Burns sank a dramatic 35-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to defeat rookie Davis Riley and capture his second consecutiv­e US PGA Valspar Championsh­ip title.

In an intense extra-holes showdown between the 25-year-old Americans, Burns and Riley began with pars at the par-4 18th hole at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida.

The playoff moved to the par-4 16th, where Burns found the green and Riley the short rough. Burns saw his putt roll left and around the back edge of the cup to drop in while the flagstick was still in the cup.

When Riley couldn’t match him with a 32-foot chip, Burns had defended his crown. “Man it was crazy,” Burns said. “Davis played well, especially the way he finished. Hats off to him.”

Burns, who won by three strokes over Keegan Bradley at Innisbrook last year, successful­ly defends for a third career PGA title to jump from 17th to 10th in the world rankings.

Firing a two-under-par 69 to complete 72 holes on 17-under 267, Burns explained his strategy, “I tried to stay steady, didn’t make a lot of mistakes. On Sundays if you can just plod your way around, make a bunch of pars, throw in a few birdies here and there, a lot of times it works well.”

Riley, ranked 399th, battled back from a triple bogey at the par-5 fifth hole that dropped him out of the lead to shoot 72 and manage his best tour finish.

“I got punched in the mouth pretty early,” Riley said. “Fought back. I knew if just kept staying in it, I would have a chance to win, but unfortunat­ely didn’t have my best stuff and that’s just what happens.

“We just said there’s a lot of golf to play, triple sucks, but I knew I was playing well enough to bounce back from it. Unfortunat­ely that hole just kind of cost me.”

In the final round, Riley’s triple-bogey disaster at the fifth hole left him one stroke behind Burns. Then Riley rolled in a mammoth birdie putt from just inside 50 feet at the eighth to match Burns for the lead at 16-under.

Burns, whose nervy par saves included 11-foot putts at the sixth and 10th holes, blasted out of a bunker to four feet and holed the birdie putt at the par-5 11th to grab the solo lead at 17-under. Riley matched the birdie from just inside six feet.

Moments later Burns’ 15-foot birdie putt at the par-4 12th saw him reclaim the lead alone as Riley could only make bogey from a greenside bunker to fall two adrift.

At the par-3 17th, Riley sank a six-foot birdie putt while Burns rescued bogey from nine feet to keep a share of the lead. Both closed with pars, Riley missing a 15foot birdie putt for the win at 18.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong