Farmington • Considering his extended family’s places in Oakridge Country Club history and the Utah golf community, it would have made a cool story for 15-year-old Preston Summerhays to have won last week’s State Junior Amateur at this stage of his life.
He lost that final match in extra holes at Oakridge, but he has come back in a big way this week. Summerhays will meet University of Utah golfer Kyler Dunkle in Saturday’s 36-hole battle for the championship of the 120th State Amateur.
In Friday’s semifinals, Summerhays took a 1-up victory over Jayce Frampton, a Dixie State University golfer from Centerville. Dunkle was a 3-and-1 winner over Ute teammate Blake Tomlinson of Salt Lake City, the tournament’s stroke-play medalist.
“It’s never fun playing one of your best friends,” Dunkle said. But “I know he’s one of the best players in this field, so it’s really fun going up against him, because I know I’ve got to play great golf to beat him.”
Dunkle surged to a 4-up lead through 13 holes and could have ended the match on No. 14. Instead, Tomlinson won with a par from a greenside bunker and also took No. 15 to cut the lead in half. Tomlinson then had a makeable eagle putt on the par-5 No. 16, but he missed and Dunkle matched his birdie. Dunkle closed the match with what he labeled a “bonus” birdie on No. 17.
No. 16 was even more pivotal in the other match. Summerhays and Frampton never enjoyed more than a 1-up lead, and they were all square through 15. After driving into the rough, Summerhays hit a hybrid shot onto the green from 242 yards, succeeding in his goal to make Frampton feel pressure to go for the green as well. Frampton’s second shot found the water on the right side and he conceded Summerhays’ birdie. Frampton’s last chance came on No. 18, where his birdie putt skirted the hole.
Dunkle, a rising senior, is from Colorado; Summerhays will be a high school sophomore in Arizona. Technically, either of them would become the first non-Utah resident to win the title since BYU golfer Billy Harvey of Las Vegas in 1999. Yet Dunkle is well established in the Ute program, two years after transferring from Colorado State, and Summerhays is a Farmington native whose family spends the summers in Davis County.
Both finalists are familiar enough with the State Am’s tradition to know what the trophy would mean to them. “It’s just super exciting, just to be in the mix, having a chance to win,” Summerhays said.
Dunkle cited former winners such as BYU alumnus Patrick Fishburn and PGA Tour players Tony Finau and Zac Blair as evidence of the State Am’s prestige.
Perhaps ironically, he left out Daniel Summerhays, another current tour player who was following his nephew Friday in the other semifinal match. Preston’s great uncle, Bruce Summerhays, won the 1966 State Am at Oakridge, where Daniel won the first of his two titles in 2000 as a 16-year-old club member.
Preston Summerhays once was mentioned in The Salt Lake Tribune as “a precocious 17-month-old … who could become the next great Summerhays golfer, if he could just remember to keep two hands on the club.”
The context was a 2003 profile of his father, Boyd, who had just qualified for the PGA Tour. Boyd Summerhays has spent the week at the U.S. Open in New York in his role as Finau’s coach. He intends to be at Oakridge on Saturday, when Dunkle will try to become the first current Ute golfer to win the State Am in nearly 40 years.
120th State Amateur
At Oakridge Country Club
Blake Tomlinson def. John Owen, 4 and 3; Kyler Dunkle def. Darrin Overson, 1 up (19); Preston Summerhays def. Andy Hess, 3 and 1; Jayce Frampton def. Dan Horner, 2 up.
Dunkle def. Tomlinson, 3 and 1; Summerhays def. Frampton, 1 up.