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Grandson Saunders honors Palmer

Sam Saunders leads the Genesis Open, 50 years after his grandfather Arnold Palmer defended his tournament title.

Associated Press

Sam Saunders leads the Genesis Open, 50 years after his grandfather Arnold Palmer defended his tournament title.

LOS ANGELES — This is the starring role Sam Saunders prefers.

Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, who kept his composure during a heartfelt eulogy of "The King," rolled in birdie putts at Riviera Country Club on Thursday for 7-under 64 and an early two-shot lead in the Genesis Open.

Saunders called it his best round on the PGA Tour, and it was merely a coincidence that it came on the 50th anniversary of Palmer defending his title at the Los Angeles Open, when it was played at Rancho Municipal.

"He just always talked about how much he loved coming out there and playing," Saunders said. "I think his celebrity matched pretty well with the celebrity atmosphere that you have here, so he was obviously comfortable with that."

Palmer died Sept. 25 last year at 87 in a Pittsburgh hospital. Saunders delivered a eulogy at his grandfather's memorial service on Oct. 3.

Saunders had a two-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and J.T. Poston at 66, while Phil Mickelson was among those at 67.

The first round was suspended due to darkness after a late start because of fog. The National Weather Service is forecasting local flooding and high winds for the Los Angeles area today.

LPGA: Katherine Kirk shot 8-under 65 at Adelaide to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Australian Open. Tied for second at 67 were Marissa Steen and Jane Park. Brooke Henderson was four strokes behind at 69. Michelle Wie shot 70, and No. 1-ranked Lydia Ko had 71.

BRITISH OPEN: Muirfield is expected to announce in March whether its members have voted to end the Scottish club's male-only policy, paving the way for its return to the British Open. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns the club, voted last May against admitting female members. After that first vote, Muirfield was stripped of its right to host the British Open.

Grandson Saunders honors Palmer 02/16/17 [Last modified: Thursday, February 16, 2017 9:41pm]
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