Defending champ Burns grabs opening round lead in Tampa


Shreveport native Sam Burns picked up Thursday where he left off last year, leading at the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship in Tampa.

Burns, the defending champion, was one of four players to card 7-under par 64s on the par-71 Copperhead Course, joined by 2017 champion Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky and Jhonattan Vegas.

The leaderboard is tightly packed, with 28 golfers within three shots of the lead, including five who rank in the world’s top 25.

Burns, a Calvary Baptist graduate who was the collegiate golfer of the year while at LSU, is No. 17 in the world rankings. Thursday, after a bogey at the demanding 16th hole, he birdied the last two holes with short putts to finish in the lead.

Burns, who now lives in Choudrant, has found success in Florida recently following three missed cuts at the end of the Tour’s West Coast swing. He tied for ninth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and shared the 36-hole lead at The Players Championship, where he eventually tied for 26th.

Last year’s Valspar win was his first career PGA Tour triumph. He added another in the fall at the Sanderson Farms Championship.