Kevin Robbins / PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, TX — Sam Burns waited a while to win his fourth PGA TOUR title.
He shot 5-under 65 on Sunday, another warm and wind-whipped day at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Burns finished the final round at 9 under par. He thought he needed to be 10 under. He watched the 16 players ahead of him fight the rustling breezes and quickening greens at Colonial Country Club.
None of them lasted.
RELATED: FULL LEADERBOARD
Nearly two hours after his round had ended, Burns defeated Scottie Scheffler in a playoff on the first extra hole, No. 18 at Colonial CC. Burns holed a 38-foot putt from the fringe behind the green that veered right and fell on its last revolution. Scheffler had a putt of 37 feet and missed. It seemed like it was over before it started.
“I’m pretty exhausted,” the new champion said in the equally new tartan jacket given to the winners at Colonial. “Mentally I was prepared to go as long as it took. I don’t know if I could have done it physically. But mentally I was ready. When coach calls your name, you’ve got to be ready to play, and I think we did a really good job of being ready.”
“Who would have ever thought that you’d have a chance seven back?” Burns said.
He went out in 5-under 30. He made one birdie and one bogey on the back nine. He posted one of 12 scores in the 60s.
He had lunch with his family and kept an eye on the leaderboard. Scheffler, who held a two-shot lead after three rounds, plodded through an uneven afternoon of no birdies but clutch putts to save par. Scott Stallings and Brendon Todd started the round right behind him. They too struggled. Nearly everyone did.
Harold Varner III threatened. Then he played the back nine. Varner shot a 45 to go from a grasp of the lead to a tie for 27th after an 8-over 78.
“I did not envy them,” said Burns, who finished at 3:47 p.m. local time.
Five players completed the par-5 11th hole at 10-under or better. None of them could stay there. Davis Riley was 11 under at the tee at No. 12; he finished at 8 under. Scheffler shot 72. Todd shot 71. Stallings shot 73. The few players who did manage Colonial at par or better started the round too far from the lead.
“I think both days on the weekend the back nine played exceptionally hard,” Todd said.
“I gave myself a lot of looks,” said Scheffler. “I just didn’t have it today.”
Colonial played to an average of 72.3 sturdy strokes Sunday — more than two shots over par. Gusts of 30 mph raked the grounds. The players learned to time them, making their swings in the lulls. On the 18th tee, Scheffler stepped into his shot at the precise moment one of them rose. “A tornado,” Scheffler quipped to his caddie.
“It’s just a really hard golf course and a lot of wind,” Burns said.
When Scheffler reached No. 16, he and Burns were the only players left at 9 under. Burns excused himself from lunch and went to the gym, where he stretched for 15 minutes. He laced his golf shoes, rolled a few putts and prepared for the possibility that he would play more golf.
He and his caddie had talked earlier in the week about how to confront Colonial, a course that opened in 1936. Many players, including those who’ve won the tournament, argue that Colonial requires few drivers. Better to take shorter clubs and aim for the widest parts of the fairways, they say.
“The data does not back that up,” Burns said. “You need to push it around this golf course.”
Burns did just that. He led the field in driving distance, averaging 297 yards off the tee. But he also was pushing it with his putter. He ranked second in Strokes Gained: Putting (4.1) in the final round. The combination of sheer distance and touch on the greens made the difference.
Burns earned 500 FedExCup points, vaulting his total to 2,101. Only Scheffler, at 3,142, has more.
“I feel like I need to win a handful more times to catch Scottie,” Burns said.
He’d like to have the chance. He and Scheffler, identical in age, are close friends, Burns said. They shared a close embrace after playoff.
“It’s going to be a fun story that we get to have for the rest of our careers,” Burns said.