Sam Burns dominates final WGC-Match Play, denies Cameron Young first PGA Tour victory

March 26, 2023

Tom Pennington

Sam Burns finally had enough. No more comebacks. No more close calls. He was done with all the stress of the result being in question until the bitter end.

After a bogey on the second hole Sunday during the championship match of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the 26-year-old from Louisiana unleashed seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch to build a massive lead over Cameron Young and win 6 and 5, capturing his fifth PGA Tour title in the last two years. Young collected his sixth runner-up finish on tour but is left searching for his first victory.

Burns played 119 holes in the last five days at Austin Country Club and completed a perfect 7-0 record. He takes home the $3.5 million top prize.

“What a week,” Burns said. “I’m so tired.”

While Burns’ record was flawless he had to work extremely hard over the past two days, in the last four matches since he went 3-0 in the group stage. In the Round of 16 he was down to Patrick Cantlay after nine holes, he was down early in the quarterfinals against Mackenzie Hughes and, although he was up early in the semifinal against his good friend Scottie Scheffler, he was 2 down after 12 holes to the No. 1 player in the world and had to go 21 holes before collecting that victory. Burns birdied the 18th in that match to send it into extra holes, leaving Scheffler to play Rory McIlroy in the consolation match.

The birdie train for World No. 15 Burns got started on the fourth hole when he and Young both tied the hole. He got up and down for birdie from short, left of the green on No. 5, got up and down from 45 yards on the par-5 sixth for birdie and when Young made bogey on the seventh hole, Burns was quickly 3 up. Burns then birdied Nos. 10-13, and with the help of Young hitting it in the water on both the 12th and 13th holes, the match was quickly over.

“I kind of found something at the end of my match this morning with Scottie and was able to carry it on this afternoon,” Burns said.

Burns first PGA Tour victory came in May 2021 at the Valspar Championship and he followed it up later that year with another at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where, coincidentally, he defeated Young by a shot. Burns defended his 2021 Valspar title by winning again in 2022 and he defeated Scheffler in a playoff last May to win the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial.

For Young, 25, his first victory seems to be getting closer and closer. Now World No. 17, he won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 and his first time in contention on the PGA Tour came in the aforementioned Sanderson Farms event against Burns. He shot a final-round 65 last summer at the Open Championship at the Old Course to finish second to Cam Smith by a shot.

This week at the Match Play, the 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year overpowered match-play maestro Billy Horschel in the Round of 16, outlasted Kurt Kitayama in the quarterfinals and birdied two of the last three holes in the semifinal against Rory McIlroy to push the match into a playoff, where he’d win with birdie. While he took home $2.2 million for the runner-up finish, he finally ran out of steam late Sunday in the championship match and had little firepower to combat Burns.

“All I can take aways is that I played really well,” Young said. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about my week.”