Ever So Close

Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders, seeking first Korn Ferry Tour (or PGA Tour) win, falls in playoff as Pierceson Coody makes birdie in Panama

By Gary Baines – 2/5/2023

Between the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour, Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders has teed it up in 281 tournaments in his career. 

At age 35, he’s still looking for victory No. 1 on those tours, but never has he come so close as he did on Sunday.

Saunders, the grandson of the late Arnold Palmer, made it into a three-man sudden-death playoff at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Panama Championship in Panama City. But a par on the first playoff hole wasn’t enough as former University of Texas golfer Pierceson Coody made 1-foot birdie for his second win in 14 KFT starts. Mac Meissner also carded a par on the extra hole and finished tied for second with Saunders.

It marked the third runner-up finish on the Korn Ferry Tour for Saunders. In 2017, he was runner-up at the Web.com Tour Championship after firing a first-round 59. He was also second at the 2012 Utah Championship. On the PGA Tour, his lone second place came at the 2015 Puerto Rico Open.

This year in Panama, Saunders rallied after a first-round 74 to post scores of 68-68-67 for a 3-under-par total of 277. He played his final 11 holes of regulation bogey-free, making birdies on 13 and 14 to shoot a 2-under 33 on the back nine.

Sam Saunders is looking for his first victory after a combined 281 starts on the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours.

Including the playoff hole, Saunders made just one bogey in his final 33 holes.

Coody, who helped Texas win the NCAA team title last fall, recorded his first Korn Ferry victory at the Live and Work in Maine Open last summer. Grandson of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody,  Pierceson is just 23 years old.

For all the scores from the Panama Championship,. CLICK HERE.