Golf

Nick Faldo’s longshot pick to win Genesis Invitational grabs first-round lead


Nick Faldo won six major championships and 43 titles in all. Was a Ryder Cup stalwart. Got inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1997. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.

Not bad in the broadcast booth, either.

Seems he’s a pretty good prognosticator, too.

During Thursday’s broadcast of the first round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club north of Los Angeles, Faldo disclosed his pre-tournament pick to win the star-studded affair featuring eight of the top-10 players in the world that is played in the shadow of Hollywood.

Sam Burns.

Sam Burns? The guy ranked 149th in the official world rankings? Was 100-1 shot to win? Is winless on the PGA Tour and a winner of one Korn Ferry tournament?

That Sam Burns?

Genesis Invitational: Leaderboard | Photos

“He’s a ball-striker and this is a ball-striker’s course,” Faldo said. “He’s played well lately and yes, I picked him before the tournament started.”

Well, Burns looked really good and made Faldo look good.

Keyed by an eagle on the first hole from 19 feet and then finishing with three consecutive birdies, Burns posted a 7-under-par 64 to stand two clear of the field when he signed his card. His two bogeys were more than wiped out by the eight red numbers.

“It’s a great compliment,” Burns, 24, said after the round when told Faldo picked him. “Anytime a guy like that says you’re going to play well, it’s always a good sign, I guess.”

Burns has touched contention in each of his three previous starts but couldn’t keep up his good play on Sunday. He quickly put whatever disappointments hit him at Pebble Beach last week behind him and was ready to go once he drove into the parking lot at Riviera.

“It’s golf, man,” he said. “It will eat at you if you let it. I think just forgetting the bad ones and learn as much as you can. I think we just hope to keep putting ourselves in that position.”

Burns gave credit to his caddie, Travis Perkins, for his solid round.

“Travis did a great job of putting us in the right spots,” he said. “I think a lot of this good play goes to him. He’s been really good out there and he’s kind of kept me calm and amps me up a little bit when I need it.

“I think we were just pretty consistent throughout the round. We knew we were going to have a tough stretch there to kind of start the back nine. I think just being patient out here. This golf course at times doesn’t offer you a lot of opportunities, so I think just with that mindset going in we were just going to kind of take what we could get.”



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