Golf: Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer, off to hot start with 59

Sam Saunders celebrates as he makes a birdie on the ninth green (his 18th) for a score of 59 during the first round of the Web.com Tour Championship held at Atlantic Beach Country Club on Sept 28, 2017.
Sam Saunders celebrates as he makes a birdie on the ninth green (his 18th) for a score of 59 during the first round of the Web.com Tour Championship held at Atlantic Beach Country Club on Sept 28, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Atlantic Beach, Florida (AFP) - Sam Saunders, who is the grandson of golfing icon Arnold Palmer, started quickly in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Thursday with a 12-under 59, becoming the seventh player in Tour history to break 60.

Playing on his home course at the Atlantic Beach Country Club, Saunders posted 13 birdies for a three-stroke lead over fellow Americans Matt Atkins and Steve Wheatcroft.

Scoring conditions were ideal on Thursday but only Saunders was able to break 60 with the help of three straight birdies beginning at No. 10.

His only blemish was a bogey on the par-three 15th.

"It was fun. You know, it was a good time out there and it was a real special day. Certainly memorable," he said. "Honestly, it just felt like a regular day at home playing our little money game and I got into a good rhythm. It was a blast."

He joins Notah Begay, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore, Willy Wilcox and Russell Knox as players to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour's development circuit.

At the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic, Stephan Jaeger became the first player in history to record 58 on the Tour.