The Jacksonville State golfer apparently didn't need any extra preparation.
Burgess shot a 3-under-par 68 to secure the lead after the first of four rounds of the 42nd edition of the annual tournament. With college talent coming to town from around the country, the reigning Calhoun County Player of the Year didn't ride a wave of high expectations coming into Thursday's round.
"I was just trying to scrape around and not put myself out of it," Burgess said.
Birdies on five of the final six holes, including the final three, put him atop the leader board, where several challenged but couldn't post rounds to match Burgess' 68. Draining a 35-foot putt on 17 certainly helped the lagging confidence that came, in part, from spending time this summer focusing on classes instead of golf.
A double-bogey on the winding par-4 No. 2 was the only blemish on Burgess' scorecard that was dotted with 12 pars.
Having not played at Burningtree since 2002, Burgess got an assist from his JSU teammate and playing partner Daniel Glidewell, who practiced on the course Wednesday and provided tips.
Ryan Haselden and Michael Buttacavoli are one shot back with 2-under 69s. Danny Evelyn was among those who reached 3-under during his round, but bogeys on the final two holes left him in the group of six tied for fourth at 1-under.
The trend of low scoring on the back nine held true most of the day, as those looking to post low numbers had to take advantage of scoring opportunities on the back. The top eight golfers combined to shot 21-under on the back side, compared to 5-over on the front.
The two par-5s on the back can be reached in two shots by most of the top players in the field, while the only one on the front, No. 7, stretches across 606 yards to eliminate just about any thought of an eagle.