As famous connections go, one of the latest US Open qualifiers has one of the most significant.
Have you heard the one about the seven-time major winner’s grandson and his caddie’s irons?
It’s quite a story.
It’s hardly the best kept secret in golf that Sam Saunders’ grandfather is Arnold Palmer, yet Saunders won’t be able to escape the inevitable questions when he arrives at Chambers Bay next week.
Saunders, 28, qualified for the 115th US Open on Monday in Columbus, Ohio. Gaining qualification alongside him were 14 others, including Americans Daniel Summerhays and George McNeill and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.
None of them, however, have a connection to the game like Saunders, who played the tournament back in 2011 as well. You could also hazard a guess that none of them earned qualification in such unusual circumstances.
Saunders was already in Ohio when he appeared for his final shot at this year’s US Open, having competed in the Memorial Tournament over the weekend.
He shot 76 and 80 on Thursday and Friday; although as we know his 80 wasn’t the worst score of the four days.
Some players might try any number of unusual and unorthodox methods to prepare themselves for qualifying just a few days later. It is, after all, their last opportunity for another 12 months, unless they make a surge up the rankings.
Naturally, Saunders decided he might as well ditch his irons in favour of those belonging to his caddie, Travis McAlister.
We know players take advice from their caddies, but how often do they take their clubs?
That is, though, exactly what Saunders did. And it worked to the tune of 66-66.
“[McAlister] has the same irons I used to have, and I decided to use his instead of mine,” Saunders was reported to have said.
So, 55 years after his grandfather lifted his one and only US Open trophy at Cherry Hills, Saunders will head west to Washington trying to make his own piece of history.