Just over a year to the day since the passing of his grandfather Arnold Palmer, Sam Saunders closed with six consecutive birdies to shoot a 59 in the opening round of the Web.com Tour Championship.
After just missing out on securing his PGA Tour card - finishing 129th in the FedEx Cup - Saunders has struggled so far in the Finals and entered this week 24th on the Final Money List, with only the top 25 getting their cards.
But this round at Atlantic Beach CC - Saunders' home club - came at the perfect time as, starting at the tenth hole, he rocketed out the blocks with four birdies in his first five holes before a stunning front nine saw him home in 28.
“It was fun - it was a good time out there and it was a really special day," he said. Certainly memorable. I played with my buddy Steve Wheatcroft and we kind of fed off each other.
“Honestly, it just felt like a regular day at home playing our little money game and I got into a good rhythm. It was a blast.”
With the round, Saunders joins Notah Begay III, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore, Willy Wilcox and Russell Knox as players to shoot 59 in a Web.com Tour event. At the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae, Stephan Jaeger became the first player in history to record 58 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
Honestly, I was excited because my wife (Kelly) and my son Cohen (eight), who is really getting into golf, got to watch. 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.
“For my wife Kelly to be there; she’s watched the ups and downs of this whole deal. I’m really glad that they got to be out there and watch me do that.”