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Burns finally finishes strong at Tour event

The Associated Press

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Eight times this season, Sam Burns has been atop the leaderboard after every round except the one that mattered. That changed, finally, at the Valspar Championship.

Burns got some help from Keegan Bradley hitting into the water on the 13th hole, and then the 24-year-old from Louisiana took it from there with two big birdies that led to a 3-under 68 and a three-shot victory Sunday.

Burns won for the first time on the PGA Tour after twice failing to convert 54-hole leads in the Houston Open last fall and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February.

The victory moves him into the top 50 in the world and all but assures a spot in the U.S. Open, along with his first trip to the Masters next spring.

He had reason to believe this moment could have come sooner. Burns wasted a good start at the season-opening Safeway Open. He closed with a 2-over 72 to tie for seventh in the Houston Open. He lost a two-shot lead at Riviera, coming up one shot short of a playoff.

Bradley and Burns were tied through 36 holes and 54 holes, and they stayed that way through 12 holes on another blistering day at the Copperhead course. That changed with one swing.

Bradley came up well short on the par-3 13th and went into the water, leading to double bogey. Burns saved par with an 8-foot putt for a two-shot lead.

Burns followed with a wedge that stopped next to the hole for a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th. He put Bradley away with a 7-iron to 18 feet for birdie.

Elsewhere:

n Former Masters champion Mike Weir won his first PGA Tour Champions event when he held steady with pars down the stretch for a 4-under 68 and let John Daly made the last mistake in the Insperity Invitational.

n Hyo Joo Kim closed with an 8-under 64 and then watched from the clubhouse as Hannah Green bogeyed her final two holes to hand Kim a one-stroke victory in the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

n Paul Barjon birdied the 17th hole and closed with a 1-under 69, and then won a three-way playoff with an eagle on the third extra hole to capture his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Huntsville Championship.

n Dean Burmester ended four years without a victory by closing with a 9-under 62 to win the Tenerife Open by five shots Sunday.

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