Sam Burns sharp again as US Ryder Cup picks loom

Aug 26, 2021, 4:38 AM | Updated: 4:47 pm

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Sam Burns would certainly love to represent the United States at the Ryder Cup.

He also understands just how unpredictable the selection process can be for an event like that.

Four years ago, when he was a standout at LSU, Burns won the Jack Nicklaus player of the year award for Division I. Then he was left off the U.S. team for the Walker Cup. Now 25, he’s a possible candidate for September’s Ryder Cup, but there’s only so much time he can spend worrying about it.

“There’s six guys that are guaranteed to make it. If you’re not in that six, you know some of that’s out of your control,” said Burns, who was tied for the lead after the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday. “Captain (Steve) Stricker can go whatever route he wants. So just knowing that, that it’s not all necessarily in my control, I’m just going to go out and try to play the best golf I can.

“If it works out, incredible. If it doesn’t, I’ll be rooting hard for the team.”

Burns shot an 8-under 64 at Caves Valley on Thursday to share the lead with Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. This is a pressure-packed event, with the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings advancing to next week’s Tour Championship. This also is one of the final chances for players like Burns to audition for a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

The top six Americans in the Ryder Cup points standings after this tournament earn spots. Then Stricker’s six captain’s picks come a week later, after the Tour Championship at East Lake. For players like Burns — 17th in the Ryder Cup standings — the scramble is on to impress Stricker.

Burns, who shot 64 for the fourth time in his last eight rounds, at least can be confident of making it to East Lake. Players like Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson are on the bubble in more ways then one. They’re trying to play their way onto the Ryder Cup team, and they’re trying to make sure they qualify for the Tour Championship — so their Ryder Cup audition doesn’t end early.

“I obviously haven’t been in good enough form to be comfortable for next week, so it’s going to take a special week,” Simpson said.

Simpson entered this event in 52nd place in the FedEx standings. He needs a big week in Maryland, and he’s off to a good start after a first-round 67.

“I was actually all over the golf course it seemed like for the first 10 or 12 holes,” said Simpson, who has appeared in the Ryder Cup three times. “Got some good breaks with good lies in the rough and just managed today really well.”

Kisner, who is 31st in the FedEx Cup standings, shot 72 on Thursday. Daniel Berger, another Ryder Cup hopeful, is in better shape after a first-round 68. He came into the tournament 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

Berger has no Ryder Cup experience, but he won at Pebble Beach in February and posted top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and British Open. Kisner won the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago but then missed the cut last week at Liberty National.

Although it may feel like these last few events will determine who gets the final captain’s picks, Berger said that’s not necessarily the case.

“I think one week is not going to make a difference,” Berger said. “I mean, it would make a difference, but I think it’s going to be about how you played over the two years, and that’s who he’s going to pick.”

Simpson also is trying to keep this tournament in perspective — with so much obviously at stake.

“You can never force things in this game, and I can’t white-knuckle making birdies,” Simpson said. “My goal today was just to have a good solid start, and there’s ebbs and flows in a 72-hole golf tournament, and so I did exactly what I needed to do for round one.”


Follow Noah Trister at


More AP golf: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Relatives stand nearby as survivors of Saturday's deadly crush are treated at a hospital in Malang,...
Associated Press

Indonesian recalls stinging tear gas in deadly soccer melee

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Dicky Kurniawan felt the sharp sting in his eyes as Indonesian police fired tear gas into the football stadium. From his seat near an exit, he said he watched the melee unfold Saturday night as angry fans poured into the field to demand answers after host Arema FC of East Java’s […]
1 day ago
Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, right, looks for an open pass against the Pittsburgh Pengui...
Associated Press

Gaudreau to Columbus tops busy summer of NHL player movement

Johnny Hockey moved East, though not as far as everyone thought. The champs out West couldn’t keep the entire band together. And two teams with lengthy playoff droughts made some moves hoping to change that. Johnny Gaudreau joining Columbus headlined a busy offseason of player movement around the NHL. Darcy Kuemper left Colorado for Washington […]
1 day ago
Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley score on a single hit by Travis d'Arnaud in the th...
Associated Press

Baseball tiebreaker games now a thing of the past

If baseball’s new tiebreaker rules had been in place years ago, Bucky Dent and Bobby Thomson probably wouldn’t be household names. With the postseason expanding to 12 teams this year, if two teams end up deadlocked for a division title or playoff spot, there will no longer be a one-game playoff to break those ties. […]
1 day ago
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) and teammate Quentin Johnston (1) celebrate Duggan's touchdown agai...
Associated Press

AP Top 25 Reality Check: Reset welcome 7 new ranked teams

This was reset week for Associated Press college football poll voters. A season-high 10 teams that entered the weekend ranked in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions bank lost. That included five ranked teams losing to unranked opponents. The fallout was more than a quarter of the poll turning over Sunday. The voters tossed […]
1 day ago
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones (55) hurries Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wils...
Associated Press

High-profile QBs on new teams had another rough week

High-profile quarterbacks on new teams had a rough week. Russell Wilson finally got Denver’s offense moving, but the Broncos lost to Las Vegas 32-23. Matt Ryan had another turnover-filled game for Indianapolis in a 24-17 home loss to Tennessee. Carson Wentz tossed two interceptions in Washington’s 25-10 loss at Dallas. Baker Mayfield struggled again in […]
1 day ago
Cincinnati defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90) runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble duri...
Associated Press

STAT WATCH: Bearcats’ 11 sacks ties most in FBS in 3 years

Cincinnati wasn’t even the American Athletic Conference leader in sacks before Saturday. With one big night against Tulsa, the Bearcats begin this week at the top of the national chart. Cincinnati tied a conference record with 11 sacks against the Golden Hurricane, matching the most in a Bowl Subdivision game in three seasons. Jabari Taylor […]
1 day ago
Sam Burns sharp again as US Ryder Cup picks loom