A week after nearly winning, Daniel Summerhays is in contention again after a 63. (Cox/Getty Images)
By Rusty Hampton, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MADISON, Miss. – He didn’t finish the John Deere Classic the way he would have liked, but Daniel Summerhays was far from bitter after bogeying the 72nd hole from a plugged bunker lie and missing out on a playoff in last week’s PGA TOUR event by a stroke.
Actually, he was quite stoked -- and it showed Thursday, when he opened the Sanderson Farms Championship with a scorching 9-under 63 at Annandale Golf Club.
“You take all the positives,” said Summerhays, 29. “I shot 18-under par for 72 holes and was standing on the 18th fairway with a chance to win the golf tournament. That can only breed confidence.”
That confidence obviously carried over, from TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., to steamy Annandale in suburban Jackson, Miss.
“When you’re driving the ball well and hitting your wedges well and feel like you can make almost any putt, it’s a really fun game,” Summerhays said. “I was really excited to come play this morning.”
Summerhays’ bogey-free round at Annandale included seven birdies and an eagle. The eagle came at the par-5 18th (his ninth hole), when he rolled in a 17-footer from the fringe. He then birdied four of the next five holes, including the long par-4 fourth, which usually ranks as the toughest or second-most difficult hole in this event.
“I definitely got things going with that eagle on 18,” Summerhays said. “That was nice.”
And compared to the last time he played a hole No. 18 in competition it must have felt like a little payback, too.
At Deere Run, Summerhays started the final round with a two-shot lead and gave it away with a four-hole bogey-binge on the front. He got back in the tournament with four birdies on the back, but hit his second shot on the par-4 18th into a buried lie in a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey. Jordan Spieth won the tournament, beating David Heam and Zach Johnson in a playoff.
Summerhays earned $190,133 for his T-4 finish and learned a little something about himself, too.
“You have to enjoy these moments,” Summerhays said. “Sometimes we take good golf for granted and you forget how hard this game is sometimes. It can be a really hard game, so I’m just soaking it in. I’m really excited about where my game is at and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on the weekend and testing myself again.”