Burns excels tee to green, opens Masters with a sixth-place 68

IN THE MIX:  Shreveport native Sam Burns is tied for sixth entering the second round of The Masters. (Photo courtesy Augusta National Golf Club)


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sam Burns shot his way into contention in The Masters’ first round Thursday with a blazing start to his round, but walked away frustrated.

The Shreveport native finished opening day in a seven-way tie for sixth place with a four-under par 68, but he was disappointed since he was four under after the first three holes.

His ball-striking was pure. Burns hit 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, and sits three shots back of the first-round pace of 7-under by Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Victor Hovland.

Burns is among 12 golfers who carded 68 or lower Thursday.

Four of the last five winners at The Masters have opened with scores of 69 or lower, and 16 of the last 17 champions were within four shots of the lead after the first round. Those facts bode well for Burns’ potential to be in the mix on the back nine on Sunday – or Monday, if the weather gets as problematic as some believe.

But Burns, who is statistically among the PGA Tour’s best putters, is looking for better results on the green today and over the weekend. Asked about the Thursday round, he said he was “a little frustrated.”

“Overall, solid. A little frustrated in the way I putted it, but other than that, solid,” said the former Calvary Baptist Academy and LSU golfer, an All-American and collegiate player of the year for the Tigers.

“Today I hit it nice and gave myself a lot of opportunities, but I wasn’t able to make them,” he said, noting he would head to the practice green.

“I felt like I started (putts) on line today, but the ball wasn’t really going in,” he said.

The Choudrant resident, who plays out of Squire Creek Country Club, drained a 15-footer to birdie the opening hole, then hit an iron to seven feet and eagled the par-5 second. He ran in a five-footer on the par-3 third, and got to 5-under with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 eighth.

But a difficult pitch shot off an elevated lie on No. 10 led to a missed downhill 18-footer and his first bogey. Burns got back to 5-under with another two-putt birdie, this one a disappointing one after a majestic 6-iron to 12 feet above the hole on the par-5 15th.

His worst swing of the day came off the tee on the par-3 16th,  producing a bad lie in a sand trap with the cup in a perilous position. He pitched to about 10 feet above the hole but could not save par.

Burns hit a lovely approach shot to 10 feet below the cup on the 18th, but again couldn’t convert the putt and settled for par.

Looking ahead, Burns is sticking with his game plan.

“You give yourself a lot of opportunities, hopefully my putter will heat up a little bit and I’ll be able to get some momentum as I make some. There’s a lot of golf left to play.”

Among those in the sixth-place logjam: defending champion Scottie Scheffler, also miffed at his putting. For the second straight year, Burns and Scheffler are sharing a rented house in Augusta.

Burns, pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy (even-par 72) and second-year sensation Tom Kim (-2) have a 9:12 CDT tee time this morning. Coverage is available on ESPN Plus and through The Masters’ website’s “My Group” feature.

Rain is expected to arrive in mid-afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club, with Saturday’s forecast looming as a potential washout for competition.