SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Seventy-two.
That’s how many FedEx Cup points Sam Burns needs to earn this week at Shinnecock Hills to become a special temporary member on the PGA Tour and be eligible to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions.
The 21-year-old former LSU standout, who has already used up his seven allotted sponsor invites, can earn enough points for special temporary status with a solo 12th finish or a three-way tie for 11th. He is currently at 197 non-member points in 10 starts and needs to get to 269, which is equal to the number of points earned by the player at No. 150 in last season’s FedExCup standings.
Not that Burns is closely monitoring.
“Just going to go out there and try to play the best I can,” Burns said.
Through 18 holes of the 118th U.S. Open, Burns is in good position. He made four birdies, including three in his last five holes, to shoot 1-over 71 on a difficult scoring day Thursday. He is just two shots off the lead and in a tie for sixth.
“There were some holes out here today where you just take par and run,” Burns said. “I’m very pleased with how I played.”
Burns, who was T-8 at the Honda Classic earlier this year, is coming off a 15-under performance in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Memphis. He won by five shots. Two days before that, he shot 81 to miss the secondary cut at Memorial.
“My score didn’t really show how I played,” Burns said of that third round at Muirfield Village. “I think I played a lot better than that. I felt like I’d been playing well, so it was really just a matter of time, fine-tuned a couple of things, get a little momentum going, get some confidence, and I feel like that’s what happened last Monday.”
Burns said that no matter this week’s result, he plans to head back to the Web.com Tour for the rest of the season. He has already won on the developmental tour and ranks 10th on the money list. (The top 25 earn their PGA Tour cards for next season with another 25 available at the Web.com Tour Finals.)
“There’s a lot of great players out the on the Web,” Burns said. “It’s very competitive out there, so there’s no let-up. Whatever happens this week, I’ll go back out there and try to finish up strong.”
But if he finishes well at Shinnecock Hills and earns, say, triple-digit points, he’ll have put himself in position to finish inside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings and lock up his PGA Tour for next season anyways. Currently, Nicholas Lindheim is 125th at 263 points.
If that ends up being the case, we could see more of Burns on the PGA Tour this season.