Less than 24 hours before he teed off in Sunday’s final round, he predicted a round of 2-under to get him inside the exempt status for next season.
As it turned out, even par would have done it, but he still came through like Nostradamus.
Burgess fired a 2-under 70, his lowest score of the four rounds, to put himself in a tie for 22nd and earn an automatic bid to next year’s tournament.
“I hit it as good as I’ve hit it all week,” Burgess said.
“Just one loose swing on the 13th hole. I never even sniffed a bogey until then.”
Burgess, who started on the 10th hole, played his front nine at 1-under, taking a birdie right before the turn. He said he began to feed off his playing partners’ good rounds and turned it up a notch on the back.
After his birdie on the 603-yard par 5, he took his second birdie on the next hole, a 570-yard par 5 to go to 2 under. After taking a birdie on a short par 4 followed by a par, his aforementioned “loose swing” cost him.
On the 192-yard par 3, he dropped it in the bunker and finished with a double bogey.
He quickly got the double out of his mind by getting a birdie on the next hole.
Burgess missed one green all day and fared better too with his new putter, a hand-me-down from his grandfather, with which he was playing for only the second time.
At the top of the heap, Smylie Kaufman overtook third-day leader Hunter Hawkins, who faded on the final day, to win the tournament.
Kaufman fired a 67 to finish the tournament at 16-under and won by two strokes over Bobby Wyatt. Hawkins, an ex-Jacksonville State golfer, carded his only round over par, firing a 3-over 75 to fall to fifth.
Hawkins took three bogeys and a double, his first of the tournament.
He made only two bogeys in the first two rounds.
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.