PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Growing up as the grandson of Arnold Palmer, Sam Saunders brings a perspective on one of the all-time legends of the game. It was Palmer who was his guiding light in the game and whose words of wisdom still serve as the foundation he goes back to.
So, when asked to comment on how he thinks his grandfather, who died in 2016, would have felt about the friction in the game since the launch of LIV Golf, Saunders is quick to say he can’t speak for “The King,” but that doesn’t mean he can’t offer an educated guess.
“It’s not fair to ever assume what anyone would think, period,” he said. “I can’t tell you I think he would think this, but based on my relationship with him and how I feel about the game of golf and how important it is to keep it accessible and fun, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be disappointed because I know I am.”
Saunders is 36 and after playing in 158 career events on the PGA Tour has dealt with a myriad of injuries the past few years – cyst on his wrist, broken collarbone, broken left leg, just to name a few – but is healthy again and spent the past season on the Korn Ferry Tour trying to work his way back to the Tour that his grandfather helped build. (The players broke away from the PGA of America in 1968.)
“I don’t judge anyone for decisions they make because I’m not walking in their shoes but no one can buy the game of golf, nobody owns the game of golf. It’s a game that should be available for anyone to play. It’s important that everyone remembers that it should be a game that brings people together, not push them apart,” Saunders said. “Personally, I’d love to see the PGA Tour go back to its roots and stick to a little bit more of the tradition of the game. I won’t candy-coat it at all, I’m not a fan of limited-field, no-cut events. That’s not what the game is about. What makes it unique is there is no guaranteed money, it’s a performance-based sport. I felt like we had it pretty solid for a lot of years. I know that the years I played out there I never could have imagined we were playing for that much money. Purses have gone up to a point that I personally don’t feel are sustainable nor necessary.
“How much money does an individual need to make playing a sport? I think it should be performance-based. I hope that all of this will end in a positive way. Right now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m concerned. I know that 90 percent of players and those…