Farmington • Daniel Summerhays was still stewing about a careless bogey on the previous hole as he stood in the fairway Thursday. He looked to his right and suddenly started smiling.
Nothing could illustrate the nature of pro sports in the COVID-19 era better than the scene of Summerhays’ wife, four children and sister-in-law, holding handwritten signs and peering through the wrought-iron bars along Shepard Lane, the street dividing the Oakridge Country Club property. Spectators are not allowed into the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship, not even the players’ families or club members such as the Summerhayses with historic ties to Oakridge.
“Kind of weird times,” Summerhays said, good-naturedly, “but at least they could watch a few shots. My wife [Emily] is dying that she’s not able to walk with me and everything, but I’m grateful for the support. It’s not easy to corral four kids 12 and under on the side of a busy road.”
That’s a chore she hopes to repeat through the weekend. Having posted a 2-under-par 69 in the opening round, Daniel Summerhays will need another good score to make the 36-hole cut Friday, when he’ll rejoin his nephew Preston Summerhays and BYU sophomore Cole Ponich in the last starting time of 2:20 p.m. They’re playing in what Daniel labeled “a home-cooked pairing,” although Preston Summerhays said that even amid the familiar faces, “It still felt like we were in a big event.”
The emotions attached to Daniel Summerhays’ exit as a touring pro, with plans to become a Davis High School coach and part-time teacher, didn’t really surface Thursday, following “four or five five months to process a lot of things,” he said.
Summerhays is one stroke behind Patrick Fishburn and 50-year-old Mike Weir among former BYU golfers, after Weir rallied with an eagle on No. 15 and a birdie on No. 16. For a former Masters champion and Presidents Cup player, the absence of fans “kind of brings you back to when I was starting out, playing some mini-tour events and smaller events around the world,” Weir said.
Summerhays is tied with Ponich in the Davis alumni division and is one shot ahead of his nephew in the family competition. That also gives David Summerhays an edge over his younger brother Boyd, among sibling caddies.
• Harry Hall of England and Stephan Jaeger of Germany, who each played college golf in America, share the first-round lead at 8-under-par 63 in the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington.
• Patrick Fishburn, from Fremont High School and BYU, and Sandy resident Mike Weir are the co-low Utahns at 68, tied for 46th place.
• Friday’s 36-hole cut likely will come at 5 under par; Davis High School alumni Daniel Summerhays and Cole Ponich are 2 under.
Everyone is chasing Stephan Jaeger and Harry Hall, who became the last player to make the field via a playoff in the Monday qualifying event in Saratoga Springs and found himself tied for first place Thursday — even with a double bogey. Hall’s 10-birdie round of 63 was matched in the afternoon by Jaeger, who made seven birdies, an eagle and a bogey. Josh Teater, T.J. Vogel, Ryan Ruffels and Chandler Blanchet are tied for third at 64.
Teater could add to Utah Championship lore with a victory, 11 years after winning the tournament at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy. Vogel has his own place in Utah history as the winner of the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Soldier Hollow in Midway, the only United States Golf Association tournament played in the state.
Making his first start of the season, Summerhays summoned some of the ability that enabled him to finish sixth in front of supportive fans in last summer’s Utah Championship, during a rough season that cost him most of his access to the 2020 schedule. His goal was to make five birdies Thursday and he launched that successful effort by making a 20-foot putt as he started the round on the par-4 No. 10. That’s No. 1 for club members, who play the hole as a par-5.
He offset some of those birdies with three bogeys, including one at the par-4 No. 5, where his drive found the creek on the right side. The same thing happened to Hall, resulting in his double bogey, after he had started with three straight birdies. The former UNLV star from England responded with birdies at Nos. 6 and 7, and he added five more birdies on the back nine.