Sam Saunders leads Tour Finals opener

Sam Saunders leads Tour Finals opener

Sam Saunders, who is the grandson of Arnold Palmer, shot a 72.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) – Sam Saunders shot his second straight 6-under 66 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead in the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first of four events in the Tour Finals.

The 27-year-old Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, birdied five of his final seven holes in the second round at Sycamore Hills — the Jack Nicklaus-designed course that was drenched by 11 inches of rain late last week.

Saunders finished 45th on the Tour's regular-season money list. Nos. 26-75 on money list and Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings are fighting for 25 2014-15 PGA Tour cards based on earnings in the series.

The top 25 players on the money list earned PGA Tour cards last week. They are competing against each other for PGA Tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals and the final leader getting a spot in The Players Championship.

Justin Thomas, Colt Knost, Greg Owen and Derek Fathauer were tied for second at 10 under. Thomas had a 65, Knost and Owen shot 67, and Fathauer had a 68.

Thomas and Fathauer have already earned PGA Tour cards, with Thomas finishing fifth on the money list and Fathauer 13th. Owen was 27th on the list, and Knost 34th.

First-round leader Ryan Blaum followed his opening 64 with a 74 to drop into a tie for 15th at 6 under. He was 31st on the money list.

Carlos Ortiz, the Mexican player who topped the money list, missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 77. He won the Portland Open last week for his third victory of the season, making him fully exempt for the PGA Tour. He entered the finals with a $194,965 lead over second-place Andrew Putnam. Putnam was tied for 64th at 1 under after a 73.

Defending champion Trevor Immelman was tied for 41st at 3 under after a 70.

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