(Reuters) - Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, fired the seventh sub-60 round on the Web.com Tour on Thursday only three days removed from the anniversary of the golfing great’s death.
Saunders stormed home in electrifying style by capping his round at the Atlantic Beach Country Club in Florida, where he is a member, with six consecutive birdies for a 12-under-par 59 in the opening round of the Web.com Tour Championship.
The 30-year-old American hit 14 greens and needed only 20 putts, including a 10-footer at the last, to grab a three-shot lead heading into Friday’s second round.
“It was fun. You know, it was a good time out there and it was a real special day. Certainly memorable,” said Saunders, whose round was three days removed from the one-year anniversary of Palmer’s death.
Saunders, who started on the back nine, birdied his first three holes and the only blemish on his card came at the par-three 15th where he made bogey en route to an five-under 31 after nine holes.
He birdied seven of his final eight holes to put himself in solid position of being fully exempt for next season on the PGA Tour, where he had two top-10 finishes from 24 events during the 2016-17 season and finished 129th in the FedExCup standings.
“Tomorrow will really help with the familiarity of the golf course,” said Saunders, who will be playing again with friend Steve Wheatcroft and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa in the second round.
“I’m not going to be too stressed, hopefully have fun and shoot a low one tomorrow.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury