Burns enters FootJoy Invitational on hot streak

Sam Burns hits his tee ball on the par-4 3rd hole during the second round of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Sam Burns hits his tee ball on the par-4 3rd hole during the second round of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Boys Rankings »

#NameYearStateRating
1Scott Scheffler2014TX67.26
2Zecheng Dou2015CA67.76
3Andy Zhang2016FL68.34
4Austin Connelly2015TX68.42
5Brad Dalke2016OK68.46

When Sam Burns lined up to hit balls between PGA Tour pros Justin Leonard and Ryan Palmer, it wasn’t an exact representation of the competition he’s been facing, but it wasn’t too far off.

Burns played against a tough field at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Dallas, one that included Leonard and Palmer. But he’s also notched top-10 finishes at his U.S. Open local qualifying stage, the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior and the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, and won his high school state championship – all within the last two months, too.

Heading into yet another competitive junior tournament, Burns is hitting his stride.

“My game is coming around at the right time,” Burns said. “It’s been fun, I’ve enjoyed them all. To get that experience is awesome.”

Burns was in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday playing Sedgefield Country Club for the first time to prepare for the AJGA FootJoy Invitational, which will take place Tuesday through Friday. Other notables in the field include Brad Dalke, Matt Gilchrest, Austin Connolly, and 2013 Junior Invitational champ Carson Young.

So far, he likes what he sees.

“It’s pretty straight off the tee and it’s been really wet,” Burns said. “I like it straight off the tee because I’m straight with my driver, so if I hit some good drives it will be a good week.”

Burns’ time in Dallas did not bear an invitation to play in the U.S. Open, but it gave him plenty of experience. Burns, who is No. 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, played alongside Abilene Christian senior Adam Carpenter, soaking in what he called a learning experience.

He also got to hit some balls between the aforementioned Tour players, a rare chance for the Class of 2015 golfer.

“It’s a lot of golf. It really tests your focus,” Burns said of the 36-hole sectional qualifier. “You have to be in good shape with all of that golf in one day – it lets you learn about your game.”

Burns will look to use those lessons learned to repeat his success at the FootJoy Invitational from last year, when he tied for third.

“I’m coming off of a great finish last year, so I’m going to take it one shot at a time,” Burns said. “There’s a lot of good talent, so it shows you where your game’s at.”

He hopes to keep his hot streak alive and measure his talent with the field in North Carolina, not the players he hit with in Dallas.

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