Why Sunday could be extra special for Sam Saunders at Canadian Open

Sam Saunders is recognized for being one thing: He’s the grandson of the late Arnold Palmer, who passed away last September at the age of 87.

Before Palmer became the most important person in the history of the game, he was a struggling tour player trying to make a living in golf – like Saunders is this season on the PGA Tour.

Saunders posted a third-round 67 on Saturday, putting him at 14-under par for the week, and trails Charley Hoffman by three shots heading into Sunday at Glen Abbey.

Here’s why Sunday in Oakville, Ontario could be a weird, wild day for the Clemson alum.

Breakthrough win

Saunders has never won on the PGA Tour in his career, with his best chance coming in 2015 at the Puerto Rico Open when he finished in a tie for second place. However, he has a really great opportunity to grab a win, a two-year exemption on tour, and a sizable pay day.

Palmer arrived in Toronto in August 1955 without a victory to his name, but claimed the Canadian Open, a $ 2,400 check, and The Seagram Gold Cup that week for career win No. 1. Palmer would credit that victory to kick-starting his career en route to 62 wins and seven major championships.

“I was so happy winning the tournament,” Palmer said back in 2004. “My wife, Winnie, was there and we were celebrating with the people at Weston. We were really having a good time. Needless to say, it was just a year after I had won the (U.S.) Amateur. So, it was important to me. It was the fact that I had won the Canadian Open.”


The Jack Nicklaus-designed course is the venue for Canada’s National Men’s Open this week. The site for Palmer’s victory came at Weston Golf Club, where he shot rounds of 64-67-64-70 for a 23-under par total. The club is located just 30 minutes from where Saunders is playing this year.

“I try not to think about it too much, but obviously I have,” Saunders told Amanda Balionis of CBS.

Arnold Palmer Day

The PGA Tour – including all three major championships played this season – have honored the World Golf Hall of Famer at each stop on the schedule. Golf Canada has followed that trend, anointing Sunday’s final round “Arnold Palmer Day” at Glen Abbey, which is also Saunders’ 30th birthday.

“To do that (win) tomorrow. It would be really special, and I’ll be thinking about it out there tomorrow,” said Saunders.

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

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