Tiger Woods gives rookie Sam Burns, 21, experience of a lifetime at Honda Classic

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Sam Burns began his day at the Honda Classic tied with Tiger Woods at even par. After shooting a 2-under 68 to Tiger’s even-par 70, Burns clipped an all-time legend and one of his childhood heroes. But not before he had the round of his life playing with him to close out a successful Honda Classic.

Burns, playing on a sponsor exemption, took full advantage of the opportunity. He finished inside the top 10 with his 68 on Sunday, which means the Web.com Tour player is automatically entered into the Valspar Championship in two weeks. He also got in a few jokes on Big Cat as they started their round.

Burns noted on the broadcast that he kidded Tiger coming up the first fairway that he couldn’t believe how many people were out to see him play, that he had never had this many people in his gallery. But he also said the entire experience was pretty surreal. The former LSU golfer is not even a year removed from playing college golf, and there he was playing his eighth PGA Tour event with maybe the greatest golfer who has ever lived.

“It’s almost like I’m speechless,” said Burns. “You see the guy on TV, you see him all over the place, and you’re standing there next to him on the tee box and you’re like, ‘That’s Tiger Woods.’ I really don’t remember [my first tee shot]. I really don’t. I don’t even remember feeling the club in my hands. It was like everything was numb. But thank gosh, that was the first time I hit that fairway all week, too.”

Burns, who had 448 text messages on his phone, said Woods was enjoyable for all 18, despite struggling down the closing stretch and stumbling over what could have been a special round.

“We had a blast,” said Burns. “He was super nice. Very encouraging. I think we’re all happy to see him back playing golf. The way he handled the crowds, it’s really cool to see. I knew it was going to be chaotic with all the people. It’s something I always wanted to do since I was a kid. Anybody my age or any age wants to play golf with Tiger Woods, much less Sunday at The Honda Classic. 

“We had a blast, and it was really fun. It can’t compare, for me, at least. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and like I said, it’s something that I’ll always be glad that happened and will always be able to tell stories.”

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