Emotional week comes to early end for Saunders


ORLANDO, Fla. – A bittersweet week came to an early end for Sam Saunders at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Saunders has been prominently in the spotlight as the PGA Tour returned to Bay Hill this week to pay homage to his late grandfather. He drew a marquee, early-round grouping alongside Rory McIlroy and Brandt Snedeker and hit the first shot on the driving range at Wednesday’s ceremony to honor the tournament’s namesake.

But two straight rounds of 2-over 74 left Saunders at 4 over and one shot outside the cut line.

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“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Saunders said. “I didn’t hit the ball as well today as I did yesterday. I actually played a lot better yesterday. But I hung in there and I gave it everything I had.”

Saunders began on the back nine and got back to even par after birdies on two of his first three holes. But he gave those strokes back at Nos. 17 and 18 and failed to make a single birdie over his final 15 holes.

It’s Saunders’ fourth missed cut in his last five PGA Tour starts, the lone exception being a T-49 finish at the Genesis Open.

“I’m far too used to it. I’ve been doing it far too often throughout my career,” he said. “I seem to hover right around that cut. Thursdays and Fridays are never great days for me. I always seem to just, I don’t know, I’ve got a monkey on my back there where I just always seem to work my way towards that cut number and think about it too much. But it’s all part of the learning experience, and just got to get better.”