Farmington • The shadow of a pine tree covered the back portion of Oakridge Country Club’s 18th green Friday as Daniel Summerhays finished his round in one of the Utah Championship’s last threesomes of the day.
Summerhays’ long birdie attempt slid past the cup on the hole that he remembers as No. 9 in his childhood, the last stop of a four-hole loop where he often would join his father, Lynn, and some of his six older siblings in the evenings. In those days, ice cream at the Maverik on Shepard Lane was the lure to make him set aside his Legos and visit Oakridge. Friday’s prize? The opportunity to play the weekend rounds of the Korn Ferry Tour event and extend his career as a touring pro.
Summerhays succeeded, even though he bogeyed No. 17 and then failed to finish with a birdie. His run of four birdies, in the area of the course where he once dunked a golf cart in a pond during a twilight race around Oakridge as a teenager, helped him post a 6-under par 65. Summerhays’ 8-under total gave him a tie for 15th place, five shots off the lead shared by Paul Haley II and Kyle Jones. Josh Teater, the tournament’s 2009 winner, is among three players one stroke behind.
A victory for Summerhays may or may not alter his plans to become a Davis High School teacher and coach in August. The more reasonable question is whether he would use the access gained via a top-25 finish to play one more tour event next week.
The answer, as usual, is family-related: yes. Summerhays is planning to drive to Missouri with his wife and children to visit his in-laws, and the TPC Colorado is on the way.
• Farmington native Daniel Summerhays makes eight birdies, shooting a 65 to advance to the weekend rounds of the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank at Oakridge Country Club.
• Two other BYU alumni, Mike Weir and Patrick Fishburn, shoot 68-68 to make the cut.
• Paul Haley II’s six consecutive birdies help him post a 62 and tie Kyle Jones for the lead at 13 under par.
Regardless, he’s happy just to be competing for two more days at Oakridge. “I figured I was going to have to play really, really well to make the cut,” he said, “and I did that.”
Two other ex-BYU golfers, Korn Ferry Tour rookie Patrick Fishburn and 50-year-old Mike Weir, also advanced as each shot 68-68. BYU sophomore Cole Ponich (69-70) and 17-year-old Preston Summerhays (70-70), Daniel’s nephew, each posted two under-par rounds but missed the cut. The required total of 5 under par was five strokes lower than last summer’s number at Oakridge.
“Just the pure experience of being out here and seeing how good these guys are is a good time,” Ponich said.
Summerhays understands. The reality of his career arc is he didn’t play well enough on the Korn Ferry Tour last season to keep his full playing privileges for 2020, and the fallout of COVID-19 takes away just about any opportunity to regain membership any time soon.
Summerhays is maximizing his sponsor exemption this week, though, even while his family has to watch from outside the fence running through the course.
Playing with the two amateurs, Summerhays displayed the putting ability that enabled him to produce one of the top PGA Tour careers among homegrown Utahns. Billy Johnston, Jay Don Blake and Tony Finau (in order of age) are the only other players in that conversation.
“The putter came alive today, which was really nice,” he said.
“It was awesome,” his nephew said. “He made a lot of great putts. It was really cool to see him fill it up.”
Summerhays’ four-birdie run started on No. 13. And then he hit an 8-iron to within a couple of feet on the par-3 No. 14, thanks to what he labeled “a nice, little Oakridge bounce.”
The forgiving kick helped propel him into the weekend, with two chances to create more memories at his home club.