Being the grandson of Arnold Palmer means there is plenty of golf in Sam Saunders’ blood and he proved that on Thursday when he shot a 59 in the opening round of the Web.com Tour Finals.
To give this perspective, only eight players have shot 59 in a PGA Tour round. Some of the names on that list include David Duval, Jim Furyk, and Justin Thomas – Saunders’ grandfather never accomplished this feat on the PGA Tour. Even though Saunders’ 59 didn’t happen during a PGA Tour event, this shows how rare this feat is for a golfer in a competitive environment.
Another one. ?
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) September 29, 2017
This was the perfect timing for Saunders to catch fire as he literally hanging on by a thread to secure his PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season. The 30-year-old missed the cut for full-time PGA Tour status by coming in 129th in the FedEx Cup standings this season – only the top-125 get that privilege.
Saunders was also on the cusp of not receiving his tour card as he was ranked 24th in the Web.com standings, and only the top-25 receive their tour card. So this 59 may have saved Saunders’ 2018 status barring any major collapses over the weekend.
Saunders birdied nine holes in a row – something we have now seen twice this season – and 13 overall on Thursday. But it wasn’t just the fact that he shot 59 that made him to so happy after the round. It was the fact that his son got to watch him play – and play flawlessly for that matter.
The anatomy of a 59. pic.twitter.com/UmS73Et2Zc
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) September 28, 2017
“Honestly, I was excited because my wife and my son, Cohen, who is really getting into golf, got to watch,” Saunders said. “He’s only watched me play three full rounds of golf probably. He’s watched me fail in golf a lot, which is good, that’s a good lesson for him.”
But Saunders doesn’t want his PGA Tour card just to make money on tour. He wants to continue his grandfather’s rich legacy by playing in the Bay Hill Invitational. The Tour status will help him reach out to other PGA Tour players in hopes of making it a competitive field with the game’s top players.
It’s pretty chilling to think about the fact that this 59, which could save Saunders’ PGA Tour card, comes the week after the anniversary of his grandfather’s passing. Perhaps Arnold is watching over Sam from above.