Sam Saunders fired a 3-under-par 69 Saturday to advance his position in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard.
“I hit the ball great, and I’ve hit the ball great all week,” said Saunders, 23, the grandson of the tournament host. “It was actually a pretty easy round; not a lot of drama.”
Well, not a lot of drama if you don’t count the 11th hole, where Saunders hit a 3-wood off the tee and into the right side of the fairway. The ball traveled 278 yards. The clubhead went 60 yards. It seems the epoxy holding the clubhead to the shaft gave out. It ended up near the rope line in the left rough.
“That’s never happened to me before ever,” Saunders said. “All of a sudden my hands stopped because there was no weight on the end of the club. It was weird. Thankfully, no one was hurt. And the ball ended up where it was supposed to go. Could have gone anywhere.”
Saunders’ round enabled him to rise in the standings. He still has a top-10 finish on his radar. “I’m not getting all I can out of a round. I’ve got to get a few more putts to drop. Need a low one (today),” he said.
ROSE BOUNCING BACK
England’s Justin Rose led going into the final round of last week’s Transitions Championship, hit the ball as well as he had during second- and third-round 65s, and got nothing out of it as Gary Woodland rallied for his first PGA TOUR win.
Rose, who shot a 2-under 70 Saturday and is tied for 24th at 214, has been fighting through the disappointment this week. “I’ve been mad thinking about it,” said Rose, who has a home in Orlando. “It’s been really hard, because I played very well. Had one of those rounds where there wasn’t instance where I could build some momentum.
“I have a process that I’m trying to stick to, and I’m really battling this week,” he added. “I just hope I’m saving them up for two weeks’ time (at the Masters) is the only positive I can draw.”
TIGER ‘PAYS THE PRICE’
Six-time Bay Hill champion Tiger Woods found himself spinning his wheels Saturday on the course he practically owns, but he was still within striking distance of the leaders until a double-bogey at the par-4 13th hole.
Woods, winless since 2009, knocked his second shot into the water from the middle of the fairway, and after a drop needed three more shots to hole out.
“I made a few mistakes out there,” Woods conceded. “There was a point in the round I had to get more aggressive on 13 and paid the price for it. I figured I needed to shoot 3‑ or 4‑under, and backfired on me a little bit.”