Just days after the one-year anniversary of his grandfather's passing, Sam Saunders made history by becoming the first person in history to shoot a 59 in the Web.Com Tour finals
Saunders narrowly missed out on securing his PGA Tour card a few weeks ago by finishing four spots outside of the necessary 125 on the FedEx Rankings, and found himself needing to compete in the Web.Com Tour finals.
As fate would have it, this week's event is being held at his home course - the Atlantic Beach Country Club - where he recorded 13 birdies and a single bogey in his opening round on his way to becoming the 7th person to record a 59 on the Web.Com Tour, and first in the Tour finals.
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.
Saunders, starting on the back nine, birdied 10,11, 12 and 14 to get off to an ideal start, but a bogey on the 15th looked to ruin his run - though it would only prove to be a speed-bump in his round.
Two more birdies on the 16th and 18th were enough to make the turn in five under par, but it was his back nine that was nearly flawless. Another putt rolled in to get Saunders to six-under on the 2nd, and then he finished his round with birdies on each of the final six holes to card a back-nine 29 and secure his name in the history books.
“It was fun. You know, it was a good time out there and it was a real special day. Certainly memorable. I played with my buddy Steve Wheatcroft and we kind of fed off each other,” said Saunders of his fellow Atlantic Beach member. “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.”
"Honestly, I was excited because my wife (Kelly) and my son Cohen (8), 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,” said Saunders. “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.”