Saunders sets the pace

Sam Saunders earned a one stroke lead following the opening round of the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship on Thursday.

Saunders, who is Arnold Palmer’s grandson, carded a seven under 64 on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, enough for a one shot lead ahead of fellow American Jason Gore.

The Floridian’s flawless round saw him drain seven birdies, including a run of three in a row on the back nine. However, Saunders felt the round could have been even better.

“I just putted a lot better,” revealed the 27-year-old on ESPN.

“I’ve been playing really well lately, been hitting the ball as well as I’ve ever hit it in my career in the past few weeks, really last month. I just had been putting terribly. I finally just had a few putts go in today, and that always turns over into a little bit of confidence, and it was really just that.

“It is just the first round, yes, but it’s always nice to get off to a good start. You have to hit the ball well here, and I did that today. I drove it well, and I hit a lot of good iron shots. You don’t have to putt great here, I think, to shoot a good, solid score, but to shoot seven under, I had a lot of putts go in for me today, which is nice. I haven’t seen that happen in a long time, so it was great.”

One of those putts was a 15 foot par save on the par three eighth.

Meanwhile, Mexican Carlos Ortiz joins Americans Maverick McNealy, Martin Flores, Will Wilcox and Carlos Sainz Jr for a tie of third place on five under.