His 61 is also a career low for Burns, who had two eagles during his second round.
“Overall, just a really solid day,” Burns said.
“I hit a lot of quality shots and was able to make some putts.”
The former LSU Tiger began the day with three straight pars, then eagled the par-5 4th. He hit a 5-iron to 15 feet and rolled it in for a three.
That putt opened up the floodgates for Burns, who then made three straight birdies. When he arrived at the par-4 9th, he was 5-under for the day and 11-under for the tournament.
“Based on the scores, obviously everybody’s shooting some good numbers,” Burns added.
“I just have to try and keep pace and try to hit as many quality shots and get as many looks as possible… but I think it comes down to being able to make some key putts.”
Two years ago, Jon Rahm was famously caught on a hot mic at The American Express, saying that this event was a “piece of s*** f***ing setup, [it is a] putting contest.” Ironically, he won this tournament the following year.
Then, this year, Min Woo Lee, playing in his first event as a full PGA Tour member, agreed with the Spaniard.
“There’s a lot of birdies, and the scoring’s really low, so I guess it’s a lot easier, in a way, but you still got to play really well and hit your drives well and wedge it close,” Lee said ahead of this year’s tournament.
“So, as Jon Rahm said, it’s a putting contest, and, yeah, if you get on the green, hopefully, you hole some putts.”
Indeed, The American Express is always a birdie fest, as every winner since 2016 has been lower than 20-under.
Burns currently leads the way at 17-under, as his other eagle came on the par-5 11th and four more birdies followed on the back-nine.
He even had a chance to shoot an illustrious 59, but he needed an eagle on the par-4 18th to reach that number. He instead settled for a par and happily signed for a 61.
“I think just the same thing,” Burns said when asked how he will approach the weekend.
“I have played well around here in the past, so, hopefully, try to build on that and go out there and just hit as many quality shots as possible, see if we can make some putts.”
If Burns can continue to hole putts, he will be a tough man to beat. But the stats show he does just that. Last year, Burns ranked 8th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained Putting. His ability to roll it on the greens factored into Zach Johnson selecting him for the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Burns needed only 26 putts on Friday, as he paraded around the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West like a man on a mission.