PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – No, he won’t change his routine. He loves to look at leaderboards and he’ll be doing so during Sunday’s final round of the Honda Classic.
Fact is, Sam Saunders – also known as Arnold Palmer’s grandson – very much knows that there’s a tournament within a tournament going on here at PGA National. Yes, he could be considered in contention to win, but more realistically there’s the opportunity to finish in the top 10 and thus gain an exemption into next week’s Puerto Rico Open.
And given that he’s without status on the PGA Tour and only has three exemptions left that he can use, every playing opportunity is like gold to the 22-year-old.
“For guys in a position like me, top 10, you get in the next week and you get on a little bit of a roll out here, you can get status pretty quickly,” Saunders said.
Riding an eagle-birdie-birdie spurt early in the third round, Saunders pushed to 6 under and was just two off the lead. But he followed that with three bogeys in five holes and eventually settled for an even-par 70.
When he signed his card, Saunders was 3 under, tied for 11th, but moments later he settled into a share of 10th. That figures to change back and forth all day Sunday, a ride he is more than willing to watch.
Will his grandfather be watching? More than likely on television from his home at Bay Hill.
“He wants me to do my own thing and not be worried about, you know, the swarm of people who would be around him,” Saunders said. “Which I appreciate. He’s thinking about me when he does that and that’s really nice.”
But to prove that he’s got a lot of his grandfather’s inner fire, Saunders is hardly frightened by the deficit he faces, whether it be six or seven or even more strokes.
“With a good round (Sunday), hopefully I can put myself in contention to win the tournament,” Saunders said. “I still feel like I’ve got a good chance in this thing.”
He’s got the attitude, apparently. Now, if he were to hitch up his pants at the first tee, how great would that be?