Saunders, 30, closed with six straight birdies at Atlantic Beach Country Club — the Jacksonville-area club where he has a membership — for the seventh sub-60 round in Web.com Tour history.
With wife Kelly and 8-year-old son Cohen looking on, Saunders made an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth and closed with a 10-footer on the par-4 ninth.
“It was dead center. I saw it going in from a few feet out,” he said about the final putt.
Stephan Jaeger set the tour record of 58 last year in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, California, and Notah Begay III, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore, Will Wilcox and Russell Knox also shot 59.
“Honestly, I was excited because my wife and my son, Cohen, who is really getting into golf, got to watch,” Saunders said. “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. 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.”
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Saunders’ grandfather, golf legend Arnold Palmer, who died a year ago Monday at age 87.
Saunders had 13 birdies and a bogey. Opening on the 10th hole, he birdied the first three holes, added a birdie on 14, bogeyed the par-3 15th and birdied 15 and 18 to make the turn in 5 under. He birdied No. 2 and Nos. 4-9 for a 7-under 28 on his final nine.
On the par-3 fifth, the 30-year-old former Clemson player holed a 40-footer from well over the green with a shaved bank and pond looming beyond the hole.
“You’re dead. You’ve got no shot there,” Saunders said. “I putted it up the hill and it was going Mach 1, it would’ve been 30 feet past the hole and it hit dead center.”I was just hoping for it to hit the pin. When I saw it was…