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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Sam Burns’ PGA Tour Win


East Ridge Country Club family cheers on “their guy”

Within minutes after Shreveport’s Sam Burns sank his final putt to win his first PGA Tour tournament, the 24-yearold was greeted with congratulatory hugs from his family, including wife Caroline and Sam’s parents, Todd and Beth Burns.

But almost a thousand miles away from Palm Harbor, Fla.— on Stewart Drive in Shreveport — another group of people was cheering for Sam: his East Ridge Country Club family.

“We had a lot of fun and popped some champagne when he was about to putt out on 18,” said East Ridge General Manager Ricky Rogers. About 40 people from Burns’ “home course” growing up gathered to watch the final round of the Valspar Championship May 2.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rogers said. “Gosh, it was emotional to watch a kid who practiced and played out here so long, winning a major golf tournament. It was very special, and I could tell the other people here felt the same way.”

During his 14 years at East Ridge, Rogers had a front-row seat watching Burns prepare for his first Tour win. From the time Burns was 10, through most of his high school years, he was at East Ridge almost daily — practicing and playing.

“He was extremely courteous and respectful to everybody here, whether it be to kids his age, to our staff, to the other adults here at the club — the members,” Rogers remembered. “He was always respectful and courteous and had an absolutely wonderful attitude. He’s just a very special person.”

Of all the days Rogers saw Burns work on his game, Rogers remembers one day well.

“It was drizzling, and it was very cold outside,” Rogers said. “There were probably about eight to 10 kids here. Seven to nine of them — all except Sam — were inside. He was outside. He stayed probably an extra hour on the putting green practicing, and I just remember telling the other kids, “That’s why he’s so good.” If I had to guess, that’s when he was probably 13 or 14 years old. He stayed out on the putting green in the cold and the wet, while the others were in by the fireplace eating on their parents’ ticket.”

Burns’ extra work has given him some extra pocket change. The Valspar win was worth $1.2 million. Since turning pro in 2017, the Calvary Baptist Academy and LSU graduate has earned $5.4 million. Yet, Rogers says Burns’ fame and fortune won’t change who he is.

“We stay in touch,” Rogers said. “He stays in touch with East Ridge … Sam’s a good person, and he’s going to stay in touch. It’s not like he became famous and forgot about the rest of us.”

In fact, Rogers texted Burns after the victory.

“I just told him how proud I was of him, and how fun it was watching him,” Rogers said. “I even told him that story about when he was practicing in the cold and rain. I told him I would never forget watching him out there when the others were all inside.”

Burns’ win means he is automatically qualified to play in any Tour event the next two years. Burns also gets an invitation to play in this year’s PGA Championship and next year’s Masters.

All a long way from Stewart Drive. “We just feel real proud that we can say he’s an East Ridge kid,” Rogers said. “He’s a fantastic golfer, but he’s also a professional young man. He’s a fine young man, and we’re just so proud of him.”


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