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Kragthorpe: Another major for Mickelson, near-miss for Summerhays

Published July 22, 2013 4:01 pm

Golf • Summerhays again falls short of first professional victory.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sunday nearly became the greatest professional golf day ever for Utah high school alumni.

Former Hillcrest song leader Amy Mickelson's husband won the British Open and ex-Davis basketball player/golfer Daniel Summerhays rallied to earn a spot in a three-way playoff in a PGA Tour opposite-field event, the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.

Woody Austin birdied the first hole to win the tournament, denying Summerhays' latest bid for his first pro victory at any level. There's considerable consolation for Summerhays, however.

For one thing, a victory would not have qualified him for the Masters, because the Mississippi event does not offer full FedEx Cup points. And via an Augusta National Golf Club policy change, the PGA Tour's top 30 money-winners no longer will receive Masters invitations (Summerhays now is 65th), so that status wouldn't have helped him get there.

Summerhays certainly could have used the PGA Tour exemption through 2015 that a victory would have given him, but his career trajectory is encouraging — thanks to a very nice July. Sunday's check for $264,000 gave him nearly $600,000 in three weeks, and he's now topped $1 million for the season.

He's come a long way since that slump as a rookie in 2011, when "the golf ball didn't know where it was going, nor did I know where it was going," as he said that year. He also showed some toughness in bouncing back from the previous weekend's disappointment and by birdieing the last two holes of regulation to get into the playoff.

Summerhays already was set for the 2014 season, and now he'll have more access to the FedEx Cup playoff events beginning in late August. Just the same, he'll have mild regrets about the past two weeks, when he took a two-stroke lead into the final round of the John Deere Classic and was tied going into Sunday at the Sanderson Farms Championship. His closing scores were 72 and 69.

Phil Mickelson's final-round 66 in the British Open at Muirfield, meanwhile, is one of the greatest performances in the recent history of major tournaments. Just imagine if Mickelson had performed better in the last round of the U.S. Open. He would claim a career Grand Slam.

As it is, he extended Muirfield's tradition of rewarding only legendary players with the Claret Jug.

KKragthorpe@sltrib.com