Sam Burns Defends Thrilling Valspar Championship Title

At the second playoff hole, Burns would drain a 33-foot putt for birdie to defend his Valspar Championship title

Burns celebrates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In an enthralling and dramatic final day at the Valspar Championship, it was defending champion, Sam Burns, who came out on top, with a lengthy birdie putt at the second playoff hole giving him a third PGA Tour title.

Following a superb finish from Davis Riley in regulation play, the two 25-year-old's headed back to the 'Snake Pit' and, following two pars at the first, it was Burns who got the better of his fellow countryman, with his clinical putting being the difference at the par-4 16th.

"This win is crazy," explained Burns following his victory. "Davis played really well today, especially with the way he finished, so hats off to him, he played great.

"But Travis (his caddie) and I just tried to stay straight today. We didn't make a lot of mistakes and a lot of the time, on Sunday, if you can plot your way around the course and make a load of pars and a few birdies, then it works well."

Beginning the final day, it was Riley who started with a two-shot lead over fellow countryman, Matthew NeSmith. However, amongst the chasing pack was also the likes of Burns and Justin Thomas, with the multiple time PGA Tour winners looking to add their impressive resumes.

Over the first four holes though, nobody seemed to making any inroads to Riley's lead. That was until a triple bogey from the American at the par-5 fifth, dropped him from two shots ahead to one shot back.

With Riley struggling, it was the duo of Burns and Thomas who shared the lead at Innisbrook. However, following a bogey at the eighth from Thomas, it was Burns who took the advantage going into the back nine.

Thomas waves

Thomas is without victory since last year's Players Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now one shot clear with nine holes to go, the 25-year-old showed his class, with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th extending his lead to two. For Burns though, his solid golf soon grinded to a halt, with the American having to hole a 10-footer at the 17th just for a bogey!

A safe par at the last followed for Burns though, but it was Riley who sprung out of the pack to mount a charge. Having made an eight at his fifth hole of the day, the young American had recovered superbly, but it was his shot at 17 which really showed his talents as his long-iron approach rested just a few feet from the hole.

Coming to the last hole of the deadly 'Snake Pit,' Riley had the wind in his sails and, after two great shots into the 18th, he was left with a 15-footer for the win. However, his attempt was timid and never threatened the hole. After tapping-in for par, we were heading for a play-off.

Sharing the first playoff hole with pars, it was Burns who was out of position with the tee shots on the second, the par-4 16th. With the American in the rough, Riley would stripe one down the fairway, with the advantage firmly in the 25-year-old's court as they approached their second shots.

Burns though produced a superb recovery into the heart of the green, while Riley would find the back edge from the middle of the fairway. However, it was the consistent and impressive putting of Burns that would ultimately seal the title, with the 25-year-old holing his 33-foot putt for just the fifth birdie of the day at the par-4 16th.

With the win, Burns now moves into the world's top 10 and also second in the FedEx Cup standings, with his victory giving him some serious momentum as we head to the busiest part of the PGA Tour schedule.

Burns celebrates with caddie

Burns now moves into the top-10 of the world rankings with his victory 

(Image credit: Getty Images)
Matt Cradock
Matt Cradock

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.