Burns paired with McIlroy in Masters’ featured group today, Friday

CONTENDER STATUS:  Sam Burns’ win at the World Golf Championship-Match Play In Austin two weeks ago has lifted him among golfers to watch as The Masters begins today.


Shreveport native Sam Burns, the recent winner of the World Golf Championship-Match Play, is in a group with four-time majors winner Rory McIlroy teeing off this afternoon in the opening round of The Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga.

Burns, the former LSU All-American who is a Calvary Baptist Academy graduate, tees off today at 12:48 CDT at Augusta National Golf Club with McIlroy and Tom Kim. They are slated to play Friday beginning about 11 a.m. if anticipated stormy weather doesn’t scramble the schedule.

Coverage will be available on ESPN for the first two rounds, with CBS picking up weekend coverage. The Masters website provides a subscription “My Group” channel that provides live shot-by-shot coverage of any player.

Burns said his Match Play victory, which included a semifinal triumph over defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, has validated work he’s put in with his coach, Brad Pullin, the pro at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, where Burns lives.

“That week was huge for me. I saw a lot of things in my game that had come into form, that we’d been working on,” said Burns, “so that was nice to see it translate to the golf course.”

Squire Creek features lots of elevation changes that provide some comparable shots to those required at Augusta National, which would seem to help Burns’ chances of contending this week. That, the practice time last spring and this week, and two rounds he played in his Masters’ debut last year bolster his bid, but speaking to media this week, he sidestepped that line of thinking.

“I don’t know. A lot of it is out of my control. I just need to go out there and put really good rounds together, and see what happens at the end,” he said.

Burns made his debut at The Masters last spring and missed the cut after carding a 5-over par score through two rounds. Scheffler, his close friend and housemate last spring at Augusta, won the tournament.

His experience at Augusta National has boosted his outlook.

“The more you play it and the more familiar you are with the greens (is beneficial),” he said. “I think I learned a lot around the greens and on the greens, little breaks here and there, the speed. I would say that’s probably the biggest takeaway.”

The WGC-Match Play crown was Burns’ fifth PGA Tour win. The 26-year-old stands 11th in the current Official World Golf Ranking and is ninth in the Tour’s FedExCup points standings.

McIlroy is second in the OWGR and sixth in the FedExCup standings. A win this week would give him the rare career Grand Slam of winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

Kim, who is having a breakout season in his second year on the Tour, is 19th in the OWGR and 19th in the FedExCup standings.

Burns has won $19.9 million since joining the PGA Tour in 2019, including the $3.5 million purse for winning two weeks ago in Austin. His best finish in a major championship is 20th last spring at the PGA at Southern Hills in Tulsa.

Burns leads all PGA Tour players this season with a 100 percent success rate on putts of three feet or less, and is fifth in total putting and approach shots from 225-250 yards.