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Friday, February 26, 2021

Burns facing anxious Sunday as he goes in search of first Tour win

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American Sam Burns takes a two shot lead into the final day at the Genesis Invitational where he’ll have five holes of his third round to complete after play was disrupted due to high winds in Los Angeles.

Firm, fast greens and 20 plus mph gusting winds wreaked havoc with the players who struggled to keep their balls on the putting surfaces before being called in for a lengthy suspension. As players hit balls on the driving range, many questioned why play had been suspended at all. There was no danger to the players, but perhaps there was to the credibility of the tournament…. see Keegan Bradley’s putt below.

Burns saw his lead cut from five shots at the halfway point to just two strokes as he posted two late bogeys on 12 and 13 of his final round. Winning is never easy, first time out even more so, but Burns wasn’t feeling too beat up after coming off the course two-over for his round and 10-under for the tournament despite the size of Sunday’s task suddenly all the greater.

“I mean, you’re getting wind that you’re not really used to seeing here, holes are playing a lot different. Even the downwind holes weren’t that much easier because it was hard to stop it there on the green. Just not a lot of opportunities out there today.”

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick looked right at home in the testing conditions, reeling Burns in with a superb three-under par effort through 17 holes to reach eight-under par on Saturday. Where most players struggled to find birdies, Fitzpatrick found seven of them but will have to come back to complete his final hole of round three today after the combination of the evening chill and darkness meant he came up just short.

“It was just going to be too dark. Well, A, too dark; B, cold, into the wind. I mean, for me, probably going to be driver, 4-iron, driver, 7-wood. Tomorrow hopefully — even though it’s going to be early, hopefully no breeze. And I don’t think this is the normal wind anyway, so maybe it’s even downwind tomorrow. You never know, have a look at birdie.”

As for how he managed to score where so well while others struggled, it all points to the plucky nature of the world number 20.

“You’ve just got to stick in, that’s the big thing for me. It’s the way I’ve been brought up, especially when it’s tough. I grew up on a golf course that’s very much like this all the time. You’ve just got to get it round and today was another day like that where you’ve got to stick in. Fortunately had a nice stretch on the front nine of birdies and kicked on from there.”

A short further back at minus-seven sees plenty of challengers with world number one Dustin Johnson, Max Homa and Wyndham Clarke all to complete round three while Patrick Cantlay is just a shot back at minus-six. Sunday’s weather looks set to be sunny and calm. A shame really!

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