Sam Saunders earned his PGA Tour card with a T7 finish at the Web.com Tour Finals at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. on Sunday.
That might not seem like big news until you consider Saunders’ pedigree: he’s the grandson of golf legend Arnold Palmer.
The 27-year-old Saunders — whose mother Amy is Arnold and Winnie Palmer’s youngest daughter — skipped his senior season at Clemson University to turn pro in 2009, and has been fighting his way through the lower levels of professional golf ever since. In 22 career events on sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour, he’s made eight cuts, recording his best finish (T15) at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2011.
Having grown up in Orlando, Fla., where his parents work at Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Saunders is already eager to forge his own legacy.
"Sure, it helps to have (Palmer) around, he helped me a bit back in the day," Saunders told SFGate in 2011. "But it's not something you inherit, you have to go out and work for it … I just want to be a success in my own right, become a great player out here. Sure, it would be nice to be able to play golf the way he did. But my main concern is to get out here full time and be a member of the tour and have a good, long, successful career … I think I'm very close."
Saunders was fighting for one of 50 cards this weekend, with the first 25 going to the top regular season money earners and 25 more going to the top earners from the month-long Finals series. Saunders played well in each of the first three events, recording three top 16 finishes, and his 3-under 67 at Sawgrass on Sunday assured him full status on the 2015 PGA Tour.
Sam Saunders might not be just “Arnold Palmer’s grandson” for long.