The stats told one story; Sam Burns told another.
Burns hit just over half his fairways, averaged 312 yards and was +0.232 in strokes gained: off the tee in the opening round of the Valspar Championship.
Nothing disproportionate to his season numbers. But following a 2-under 69, Burns was pleased, particularly with his driver.
“Yeah, I've found one that I really like now. Unfortunately, I had one that the USGA failed, and let's see, that was at L.A.,” Burns, who uses Callaway equipment, said Thursday.
Full-field scores Valspar Championship
“So that was a tough couple weeks, trying to figure out something I like. You come out here and you need something you're comfortable with, especially when the wind starts blowing. So, I shouldn't really have that for a couple weeks, but now I found something I really love, and so I'm excited.”
Asked why his previous driver was deemed non-conforming, Burns said, "They said it failed by one point. So I don't really know what that means. Not a lot of transparency there."
Burns missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational and did the same in his next start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He tied for 35th last week at The Players.
Now, with a comfortable driver in his hands, Burns is three shots off the early lead in a bid for a third consecutive victory in this event. Steve Stricker is the most recent player to win the same event three straight years, doing so at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11.
With only one top-10 this year, however, Burns isn’t thinking about making history as much as he in finding consistency.
“Not really, to be honest,” Burns said when asked if a three-peat was on his mind. “I think for me, it's just trying to put together a solid week and a lot of winning is out of my control. So, I just try to go out there and play the best that I can and add it up at the end.”