TCN welcomes rising PGA Tour star Sam Burns as investor and advisor
Sam Burns, the No. 25-ranked golfer in the world, who earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Valspar Championship earlier this year, has joined The Caddie Network team as an investor and an advisor.
“It’s really, really exciting for us to have him on board in that capacity, having a player of his caliber, a young person with perspective as a player, who also knows the value of a caddie and the game of golf and what we’re doing,” Caddie Network co-founder Merrill Squires said. “It’s just been fun to bring everyone into the mix this way. Todd, his father, and Sam have gotten involved in our business and we’re really excited to have them on board.”
The 25-year-old Burns – about to embark on his fourth full season as a member of the PGA Tour – enjoyed his best season to date in 2020-21. Along with the Valspar victory, Burns collected an impressive eight top 10s, tied for 18th in the final FedExCup standings and finished fifth in birdie average.
He recently joined Squires and host John Rathouz on our ‘Under the Strap’ podcast for a wide-ranging interview, which included the funny story behind how he initially got into golf.
“It started with me using a golf club as a weapon against my older brother,” the Louisiana native an LSU product joked. “But he’s the one who introduced me to it. I kind of just fell in love with it right off the bat. It was so unique to me just because it was so different from all the other sports I had played in the sense that, you know, in football if you’re a linebacker and you miss the tackle, you’ve got a safety behind you to pick up your slack. In golf, if I hit a bad shot, that’s on me. I think it was unique in that sense that a lot of it was in my control.”
Burns also credited friends with helping him to excel.
“Fortunately, I had some really good buddies that were a lot better than me when we were kids, so I got tired of losing to them,” he said. “That definitely motivated me to try and improve my own game.”
Burns, who always dreamed of being a professional athlete, said he decided in his freshman year of high school that he was going to make golf his priority.
And, boy, did that work out. In 2015, at just 18 years old, the then high school senior made his first start on the PGA Tour, teeing it up in the Valero Texas Open with his older brother on the bag. It was memorable for a few reasons.
“When you’re a senior in high school, you know everything at that point,” a much wise Burns laughed. “We had great weather leading up to the tournament – it was 2015. Thursday morning, a cold front came through and we had a north wind blowing about 30 mph and I was not prepared for that. My game? No chance. Especially around that golf course. That place is hard enough with no wind. We got off to an atrocious start and at 18, I’m not very mature and was getting pretty frustrated and he’s trying to calm me down. I’m probably telling him to ‘shut up.’ There were high emotions going on there. I actually shot – I’ll never forget – I made an 8-footer to break 90. I shot 89 in my first ever round on the PGA Tour. I had a lot of thoughts that day about if I wanted to continue playing golf. ‘Eh, I don’t know if I really want to do this if it’s going to be like this.’”
Luckily for Burns, he stuck with it.
Three years later, he earned himself a final-round, afternoon tee time at the Honda Classic with noneother than Tiger Woods.
“Rewind to the night before,” Burns recalled. “I finish on Saturday, and I have some buddies texting me like, ‘Hey, I think you’re going to play with Tiger if this and this happens.’ I’m like, ‘yeah, I mean, whatever. I’ll believe it when I see it.’ So, I’m sitting at dinner. You get a text on your phone – we haven’t gotten our food yet – and I’m like, ‘Oh, man. 12:50 off No. 1 with Tiger Woods.’ I remember feeling this pit in my stomach of, ‘Well, I guess chips and salsa is all I’m going to be eating tonight because there’s no way I’m going to be able to eat any more food.’ I didn’t sleep that night. I was so anxious.”
Burns said he wished the tee time was 7:30 a.m., as the wait was just killing him Sunday morning.
“We get to the golf course, and I see Tiger in the locker room,” Burns remembered. “I wash my hands and I’m like, ‘Oh, man, I gotta say something to him.’ So, I go over and introduce myself. I said something about DT [David Toms] because I knew they knew each other. So, we go out and warm up, I get up to the tee and of the 20,000 people there, I think six clapped for me. Probably just my family. He walks on the tee and it sounds like LSU just scored a touchdown. Deafening. That’s when it kinda hit me. I was so nervous.
“The tee shot on 1 at Honda you can pretty much hit whatever,” Burns said. “I think I hit a 5 iron. I hadn’t hit the fairway all week with a 5 iron either. Somehow, I hit the fairway. So, we’re walking off the tee and I kinda just wanted to break the ice, really. Just get him to laugh. I looked over and I said, ‘Tiger, it’s really crazy how many people came out to watch me play golf today, isn’t it?’ He just started laughing and he thought it was good. So, we had a fun day. It was something that I’ll never forget.”
Oh, and – for the record – Burns’ 2-under 68 that day to finish T8 was two strokes better than Woods.
“He wasn’t playing me, but I was playing him!” Burns said. “To go bogey-free on Sunday at PGA National, it’s hard in itself. And to do it while playing with him was really tough. But I think for me, once we got through 2-3 holes, it was like, ‘Hey, this is a big opportunity for me because 1. I don’t have status; 2. If I top 10, I’m in the following week. I just wanted to really focus on what I needed to do that day.”
Though he had knocked on the door a few times before, Burns finally notched his maiden Tour win in May with a wire-to-wire victory at the Valpsar Championship.
He had nothing but praise for caddie Travis Perkins, who managed to keep him in the moment when the pressure was on.
“There’s an understanding that the end goal is the same for both of us,” Burns said. “We both want it really bad. Just having so much trust in the other person to know that. Travis is a very good player himself. He played out on Tour for a year, and I understand that he knows the game of golf as well as anyone…
“It’s been really fun for us and Travis is not only a great caddie, but I consider him a great friend and we’ve had a blast so far.”
Burns tees it up for the first time in the new season this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi.