U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

St. Jude Championship

Sam Burns makes an ace, but he's far from happy in Memphis

August 12, 2023

Sam Burns smiles on the 12th green during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Ben Jared

MEMPHIS – Sam Burns threw his yardage book into his golf bag with such force that he dislodged a few items from one of its pockets. You wouldn’t have known that he had just finished off a three-under 67 on Saturday that included a slam-dunk ace at the par-three 11th hole at TPC Southwind.

The hole-in-one during the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship was his second in less than two months and his second in his PGA Tour career.

The first came in mid-June at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club when he aced the 78-yard 15th in the opening round. When the ball spun back into the hole, Burns tossed his club in the air excitedly and high-fived playing partners Dustin Johnson and Keith Mitchell and his caddie, Travis Perkins.

This time, after the ball slammed into the right side of the cup on the fly, he calmly shared a hug with Perkins and raised his 9-iron to the crowd before getting congratulations from Matt Kuchar and Alex Smalley, who made a hole-in-one at the famed par-three 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during the final round of this year’s Players Championship.

Burns appeared to exude a been-there, done-that disposition. When he retrieved the ball from the cup, he tossed it into the gallery behind the green.

“When you’re in 63rd place out of 70 people, there’s not a ton to celebrate,” Burns told Golf Digest about his more muted reaction. “Yeah, I couldn’t make any putts today, so I figured I’d just get it done on the first shot. It was fun.”

But that’s where the fun ended.

Ranked sixth on tour in strokes gained/putting this season, Burns is highly dissatisfied with his work on the greens at TPC Southwind. He ranks 61st in that category this week, and on Saturday he was 55th, losing 0.576 strokes to the field, which nullified leading in strokes gained/approach the green in the third round at plus-3.380.

He followed his ace with birdies at 12 and 14 and then parred in, missing a six-footer for birdie at 18.

After the round, Burns, winner of the Dell Technologies Match Play this year, spent more than 90 minutes on the putting green, hitting putts with his putter and even with his pitching wedge. He felt like he had worked out the kinks. Fortunately, because is projected inside the top 30 despite sitting T-55 at even-par 210, Burns will have more reps upcoming at next week’s BMW Championship.

“It’s one of those things where you just have a bad week on the greens, but hopefully it’s just this one week,” he said. “I do hope I can keep those hole-in-ones coming. I can make those, I guess.”