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Sam Burns went from kid in gallery to Charles Schwab Challenge champ

2022 Charles Schwab Challenge

As a PGA Tour rookie in 2019, Sam Burns started his season at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, and he and wife Caroline and fellow Tour pro Kramer Hickock and his better half were sipping wine at the tasting room of winery Silver Oak when they each decided to buy a double magnum of its iconic cabernet sauvignon. Burns and Hickok made a pact that they’d save it and crack it open as soon as they won for the first time in the big leagues.

“Every time I saw that bottle, I’d think ‘gosh, I really want to open that,’” Burns recalled.

It took 76 Tour starts – until April 2021 at the Valspar Championship near Tampa – but Burns finally claimed his maiden victory and as soon as he got home they celebrated with Silver Oak.

“A bunch of friends came over and helped us finish it off,” Burns said with a smile.

Burns has kept on winning, including the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge, erasing a seven-stroke deficit with a Sunday 65 to force a playoff and poured in a 38-foot putt on the first extra hole to beat his best buddy, then World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

Sam Burns is congratulated by Scottie Scheffler after winning the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

For those who have followed Burns, his rise in the game isn’t the least bit surprising. Perhaps the one person who didn’t recognize his raw promise was his dear, old dad, Todd, who had to be convinced by the father of a fellow local golfer that his son was good enough to compete on a larger stage outside of their hometown’s city limits.

“There was a local junior tournament in Shreveport (Louisiana) and we signed Sam up for it,” Todd Burns told the Shreveport Times. “The dad of Phillip Barbaree came over to me after the tournament and said, ‘You need to let Sam play in national competitions.’ I said, ‘Really? I don’t think he’s ready for that. He said, ‘Oh, he’s ready for that.’ ”

Ready enough that he would go on to be named the 2014 AJGA Rolex Player of the Year, an early indicator that he was destined to be a PGA Tour winner.

Brad Pullin, a PGA teaching professional and director of golf instruction at Squire Creek Country Club, is the longtime swing coach for Burns. The first time Pullin watched Burns swing, he had one thought: “Don’t screw it up.”

Collin Morikawa has competed against Burns since he was 12 or 13 years old and beat up on him regularly at the junior…


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