After winning the Jack Nicklaus Award as the Division I college player of the year in June, Sam Burns did what a lot of talented collegiate golfers do: He announced he would not be returning to school for his junior year at LSU this fall, but instead would turn pro. However, the 21-year-old from Shreveport, La., has one more accomplishment he wanted to achieve before making the formal jump: play for the U.S. team in the Walker Cup. So he announced he wouldn't be turning pro until the end of the summer, hoping that his impressive college resume would be enough for him to make squad.
Turns out the wait was for naught as Burns’ name was not among the 10 listed Sunday night when the USGA unveiled the 2017 U.S. team at the conclusion of the U.S. Amateur Championship.
The decision came as a surprise to many considering that after his stellar season in Baton Rouge, Burns continued to impress this summer. He was fifth at the Northeast Amateur and, having won a sponsor’s exemption into the Barbasol Championship through a 18-hole qualifying event, he went on to finish T-6 in the PGA Tour event in July held opposite the British Open. He ranked 21st in the World Amateur Golf Ranking heading last week at Riviera Country Club, where he finished T-16 in stroke-play qualifying before losing in the first round of match play.
Give Burns credit: He said the right things on social media after the announcement.
That left others to wonder how in the world the reigning Division I college player of the year.
Peterson has a two-way beef: He’s a former LSU golfer who won the NCAA title in 2011 and found himself without a spot on that year’s Walker Cup team as well.
Remember, Barnes is a former U.S. Amateur champion.
Throughout the summer there have been many who have criticized the USGA for waiting until after the U.S. Amateur to announced the entire Walker Cup team rather than name players in groups in the months leading up to the event, as the Association had done in previous years. During that time, players were unaware of where they stood in the minds of the USGA Team Selection Committee as there is no formal points system used to pick the team.
Even John (Spider) Miller, captain of the U.S. team, was on the outside looking in on the decision making process, as he does not have a formal vote on who makes the team.
A few other players with solid resumes were also left off the team: Dylan Meyer, the 2016 Western Amateur champ and the No. 4 ranked amateur in the world; Brad Dalke, the 2016 U.S. Amateur runner-up; and Scott Harvey, a former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who qualified for this summer's U.S. Open and played on the 2015 Walker Cup team.
Harvey voices his disappointment in a tweet noting how the USGA only selected one mid-amateur (Stewart Hagestad) for this year's team.
Of course every year there are going to be players with solid pedigrees who just miss out on the squad. But the case of Burns might have a lingering impact on the U.S. Walker Cup teams down the road. By waiting the entire summer to see if he’d get picked, Burns passed up trying to play in any PGA Tour or Web.com Tour events on sponsor’s exemptions in hopes of winning enough money to grab a card for 2018 on either tour. Essentially Burns lost a year on his pro career by waiting the two-plus months to try and make the U.S. Walker Cup team.
Suffice it to say, there will be future amateurs in the running for future Walker Cup teams who will see what happened to Burns and likely think twice about holding out hope for playing for the red, white and blue.