EL PASO, Texas – LSU sophomore Sam Burns added his name alongside many of the all-time greats of the game when he fired a 5-under par 66 in Sunday’s final round to claim a three-shot victory with a final score of 12-under par 201 at the 2016 Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic at El Paso Country Club.
Burns trailed Oklahoma State’s Kristoffer Ventura by one stroke at 7-under par at the start of play in the final round, and both were off to fast starts with matching birdies at the par-four first hole.
But Burns turned the tables and took the lead for the first time with back-to-back birdies at the par-four fifth and sixth holes to drop to 3-under par for his round and 10-under par for the tournament through the turn. He moved to 7-under par for the day with birdies at the par-three 10th and par-three 12th holes before making an eagle 3 at the par-five 13th hole.
Despite carding two bogeys at Nos. 15 and 17, Burns closed out a three-shot victory over USC’s Justin Suh with a final-round 66 for a 54-hole score of 12-under par 201 for the weekend. Suh finished runner-up to Burns with a final score of 9-under par 204, while Ventura dropped to third place on the final leaderboard with a final score of 8-under par 205 for the championship.
“I’d love to come back for 20 more years to play,” Burns said in the Sun Bowl’s tournament report. “I am really honored to play in this tournament. From the first day I got here I felt extremely welcomed.”
Burns is the first LSU Tiger in the 42-year history of the tournament to be crowned champion of the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic. It is a championship that also features such past winners as Davis Love III (1984), Billy Mayfair (1986), David Duval (1991), Tiger Woods (1995), Matt Kuchar (1999) and Webb Simpson (2007).
In a field featuring 19 of the very best players in college golf, fellow LSU sophomore Luis Gagne also cracked the Top 10 of the leaderboard as he fired a 2-under 69 in Sunday’s final round to tie for seventh place overall with a total score of 2-under 211 in 54 holes. Gagne finished in a four-way tie for seventh place with Arkansas’ Charles Kim, San Diego State’s Nahum Mendoza III and College of Charleston’s William Rainey.
LSU golfers have been among the top performers in the event in recent years as two-time All-American and rookie professional Zach Wright finished runner-up in the event himself just last year with a final score of 4-under par. PGA TOUR standout Andrew Loupe also earned a top-10 finish while tying for sixth place in 2010, while John Peterson twice featured in the field in 2009 and 2010 and Ben Taylor competed in 2014.
Alumni of the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic have gone on to win 50 major championships and more than $1.8 billion in earnings as members of the PGA TOUR since its inception in 1974.