Midway • Utah State golfer Chase Lansford was ready to pounce on the 16-year-old phenom, sensing Preston Summerhays was going to crack after losing consecutive holes in the morning round of the 121st Utah State Amateur’s 36-hole championship match.
Naturally, the defending champion had other ideas.
With the match suddenly all square through nine holes at Soldier Hollow Golf Course, the rising high school junior birdied seven of the next nine holes, and nine of the next 13, to regain control and cruised from there to become the tournament’s first repeat champion since 2001.
“The entire day, I was just thinking, ‘attack, attack, attack, just make as many birdies as possible,' and that’s what I did,” Summerhays said after taking the 7 and 6 win on the Gold Course.
After becoming the youngest champion ever last year at Oakridge Country Club, Summerhays is now the youngest player ever to repeat, and first to repeat since his uncle, Daniel Summerhays, won back-to-back titles at Oakridge and nearby Wasatch Mountain State Park in 2000 and 2001.
“That was my mentality all day, was try to get birdies, birdies, birdies,” he said, after getting 13 in 30 holes. “I am not going to lie. After I gave up holes 8 and 9 in the morning [round], that got me a little mad, and I [turned] that into fuel. That kind of pushed me to play well the back nine.”
Lansford, who is from Texas and will be a senior at USU this fall, said there was simply nothing he could do once the youngster got hot.
“Preston just put on, honestly, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen,” Lansford said. “That back nine of the morning match is probably the best nine holes I have ever seen. I told my teammate [and caddy] Cameron Tucker that is probably the best nine holes I’ve seen out of a pro, an amateur, you name it. So I really just ran into a buzz saw.”
Trailing by three holes before 8:30 a.m. after Summerhays birdied three of his first four, Lansford birdied 6 and 7 to get back into it, and made six birds on the day, with only a couple of bogeys. But it wasn’t nearly enough.
“There was really only one hole I gave to him with a bogey,” he said. “So I can’t say at the end of the day that I lost it. He truly just beat me.”
Summerhays said he got a “really nice text” from his uncle Danny a few nights ago, “telling me to just go get it.”
And he did.
“I am super-excited,” he said. “Chase played great today, too. It has been a goal of mine, for this year, to win this tournament again. So I am just really happy to achieve this goal.”
Summerhays said he will be back next year to go for the three-peat at Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club.
His father, former PGA Tour player Boyd Summerhays, who is also local professional golf star Tony Finau’s swing coach, caddied for him in most of his matches, wins over Patrick Horstmann (5 and 4), Boston Watts (3 and 2), Reed Nielsen (1 up), Jake Vincent (2 and 1) and Elijah Turner (1 up) before blowing out Lansford.
“The thing I am most proud of is when he had chances to get eliminated, he made the putts,” Boyd Summerhays said. “Whether it was the elimination putt against Reed [Nielsen], where he had to make the 12 footer after losing the five-hole lead, he did it. … Preston made that putt, and you saw what that meant to him. And yesterday, when Elijah Turner was making a run, he made a 10-foot bogey putt to regain control, and then today, after losing 8 and 9 and being all square at the turn, he just did what he can do sometimes.”
After the trophy presentation, the Summerhayses drove straight to the airport and flew to Ohio, where the U.S. Junior Amateur begins Monday at Inverness Club in Toledo. After that, Preston will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in California, then play in the Pacific Coast Amateur.
“We spend a lot of time on the golf course playing, practicing and grinding and laughing, and then to see him do it when he needed it the most, and wanted it the most, is something I will never forget,” Boyd Summerhays said.
• Preston Summerhays defeats USU golfer Chase Lansford 7 and 6 in the championship match of the 121st Utah State Amateur golf tournament.
• Summerhays, 16, a rising high school junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., who spends his summers in Utah, becomes the State Am’s first repeat champion since 2001.
• Summerhays never trails in the championship match and makes seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch to take control in the morning’s 18 holes.