Ahead of the start of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club this Friday, we have decided to profile the eight rookies from both teams. Third up for team USA is a man with Matchplay pedigree and the letters USA shaved into the side of his head
Name: Sam Burns
Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
Sam Burns is making a lot of headlines, but unlike teammate Wyndham Clark, it’s Burns’ appearance rather than his words that catch the eye. After being selected as one of Zach Johnson’s wildcard picks for this years Ryder Cup, Burns has decided to take a page out of the Rickie Fowler playbook and get the letters U, S and A shaved into the side of his head to accompany his already audacious mullet ahead of the matches in Rome. Burns will hope he can back up his bold decisions off the course with more matchplay success on the golf course.
Burns was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in July 1996. He began his amateur career with a bang, becoming a three time individual State Champion during his time at Calvary Baptist Academy, a private co-educational school, and in 2014 he was named AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 2014 before signing up to to play golf for Louisiana State University. His college career got off to a similarly fast start, winning four tournaments in 15 starts in his sophomore year. Burns was named a first team All American in addition to being named the NCAA Division 1 Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year in the 2016/17 season.
Burns finished his amateur career representing the winning US team at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup team and just before he turned pro, Burns got his first taste of PGA Tour golf when he qualified for the 2017 Barbasol Championship, finishing in a tie for sixth.
Burns first year as a pro was spent on the Web.com Tour, mixing in the occasional PGA Tour start. One of the highlights of his year was a T-7 finish in the 2018 Honda Classic where he played with Tiger Woods in the final round. The seventh placed finish earned Burns an entry into the Valspar Championship where he again impressed enroute to a 12th place finish. Burns took inspiration from his two excellent outings on the big Tour and earned his first win on the Web.com at the 2018 Savannah Golf Championship, birdieing the final three holes to beat Roberto Castro by one stroke. Burns had done enough to earn his PGA Tour card for the 2018/19 season and he never looked back.
Burns has never lost his card but it took him two seasons to earn his first victory and it came at the same event where he finished 12th as a fresh faced Web.com Tour player three years earlier. Burns won the 2021 Valspar Championship, shooting a final round 68 to win by three shots over Keegan Bradley. Five months later, Burns won his second PGA Tour title at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the following year he defended his Valspar Championship crown, coming through a play off with Davis Riley for his third career PGA Tour victory. It wouldn’t take long for number four to come around.
The following May, Burns holed a 38 foot birdie putt to defeat close friend and reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, the most in form golfer in the world, to win the Charles Schwab Challenge. Burns came from seven shots back and with the win he qualified for the US team who took on the rest of the world in the 2022 Presidents Cup. Burns lost three and tied two of his matches as the US team took home the trophy. His play was impressive, despite the poor record, and the very next year Burns would prove himself as a world class match play golfer.
In March of this year, Burns won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, defeating Scheffler again in the semi-final and then took down Cameron Young 6&5 in the Championship match.
Burns will hope to continue his matchplay form when the Ryder Cup gets underway in two days time and with a hairstyle like that, he’ll be hoping that he has better success than Rickie Fowler did in 2014.