Utah’s remarkable run of sending club pros to the PGA Championship continued Wednesday, when 49-year-old Joe Summerhays qualified after pulling off a risky shot through the trees on the 18th hole.
Summerhays, a teaching pro at Eagle Lake Golf Course in Roy and Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, advanced to the PGA Championship for the second time via a top-20 finish in the PGA Professional Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He shot 70-70-74-73 for an even-par total, ending up in a nine-way tie for eighth place at PGA Golf Club. Summerhays will join Salt Lake City native Tony Finau in the major tournament field May 20-23 at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course in South Carolina.
Needing a par on No. 18 to avoid a playoff for one of the last four spots, as it turned out, Summerhays drove into the trees to the left of the fairway. He threaded his second shot through a narrow opening and onto the green, guarded by water, and two-putted for a par.
Summerhays began the final round tied for 14th and moved up by playing the first 12 holes in 1 under par. Bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 and his failure to birdie the par-5 No. 16 made him agonize to the end, but excellent approach shots gave him tap-in pars on the last two holes.
Summerhays’ second PGA Championship appearance will help the Utah Section PGA account for 10 entries in the past eight tournaments. That’s an inordinate number, considering those Utahns each had to place in the top 20 of the PGA Professional Championship’s final stage, with 312 players having reached that level.
Jeff Brehaut, a former PGA Tour player now living in Park City, was the only other Utahn to make the 54-hole cut in Florida this week. Brehaut tied for 40th at 5 over par.
The other Utah club pros who have played in recent PGA Championships include Steve Schneiter and Dustin Volk in 2014, Steve Sharp and Summerhays in 2016, Chris Moody in 2017, Craig Hocknull and Zach Johnson in 2018, Hocknull in 2019 and Johnson in 2020.
Summerhays played in the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol GC in New Jersey, posting 76-73 and missing the 36-hole cut as his cousin Daniel finished third. Joe Summerhays, the Utah Section PGA’s 2020 Player of the Year, hopes to qualify later this year for PGA Tour Champions membership — following the path of his father, Bruce, a longtime Utah club pro who became a three-time winner on the tour.