Preston Summerhays has won 11 straight golf matches during the past two weeks, doing so in nearly every possible way. Victory Nos. 10 and 11, in Friday's quarterfinals and semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur, each featured a remarkable surge after Summerhays trailed in the middle of the round.
The two-time State Amateur champion advanced to the final match of the Junior Amateur, thanks to wins of 2 up over Ohio golfer Austin Greaser and 4 and 3 over England’s Thomas Pagdin at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Summerhays, the No. 11 seed, will meet No. 8 seed Bo Jin of China in Saturday’s 36-hole final, with FS1 joining the match in progress at noon MDT. He went 6-0 in match play in the State Am last week at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway and is 5-0 in Toledo, after also playing well in two stroke-play qualifying rounds in each event.
Summerhays, 16, is a native of Davis County, where his family spends the summers while living the rest of the year in Scottsdale, Ariz. He’s aiming to become the first golfer with Utah ties to win the Junior Amateur title since Scott Hailes of West Bountiful in 1995. Hailes’ road to the title included a win over Boyd Summerhays, Preston’s father.
Preston Summerhays claimed each of his two wins Thursday by winning No. 18 after being tied. In his Friday morning match, he was 3 down to Greaser after 11 holes, but won five of the remaining seven holes. He was 2 down to Pagdin through seven holes in the afternoon, before launching another blitz that resulted mostly from his own brilliant play. Summerhays won six of the next seven holes, four with birdies, then closed out the match with a tying par on No. 15.
The key to his comeback in the morning match was “just staying patient,” Summerhays said. “I didn’t really panic too much. I mean, coming into this week my dad said, ‘If you get a couple down, it’s kind of just golf.’ People have their highs and lows in rounds. [Greaser] just made two great 15-foot sliders and I was thinking, ‘People are human. They’ll make mistakes’. So I just stayed patient.”
Utah’s history of United States Golf Association winners covers nearly a century, dating to George Von Elm’s defeat of Bobby Jones in the 1926 U.S. Amateur. Other victories for Utah-born golfers have come more recently. Scott Hailes defeated future PGA Tour winner James Driscoll in the ’95 Junior Amateur finals in North Dakota. Annie Thurman Young of Alpine, then an Oklahoma State golfer, claimed the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links title. In 2005, former Davis High School golfer Clay Ogden defeated Michelle Wie in the quarterfinals on his way to victory in the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Ohio. And in 2017, Salt Lake City resident Kelsey Chugg won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in Houston.