After more than an hour of waiting, Daniel Summerhays made his birdie to tie for the lead. (Cox/Getty Images)
By Rusty Hampton, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MADISON, Miss. – The longest day in Daniel Summerhays’ professional golf career ended the way it began Saturday, with Summerhays atop the leaderboard of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Summerhays waited out a 77-minute rain delay to make one last shot, a 19-foot birdie putt on hole No. 18, to claim a share of the 54-hole lead going into Sunday’s final round at Annandale Golf Club.
Summerhays’ putt capped a 3-under 69 and put him at 17 under, tied for the lead with Nicholas Thompson (65) in the storm-plagued event. Chad Campbell (65), Cameron Beckman (65), Woody Austin (67) and Kyle Reifers (67) are tied for third at 15 under. Saturday’s delay, with only Summerhays, Vaughn Taylor and Fabian Gomez still on the course, was the third in as many days for the tournament.
Summerhays got to the course at 5:45 a.m. to complete his second-round 67, returned to his hotel to shower and change clothes, and then finished his day by snaking in a downhill slider at 7:32 p.m.
“All of us are equally exhausted,” said Summerhays, who played 28 holes Saturday. “Everybody. The staff. The volunteers. It’s been a long few days.”
Now Summerhays finds himself in an increasingly familiar position -- in the final group on Sunday. He led last week’s John Deere Classic by two shots going into the final round and was tied for the lead on 18 before a bogey kept him out of a playoff.
“It’s becoming more and more normal,” said Summerhays. “At Greenbrier on Saturday I was in the last group. Last week the final round I was in the last group. I was in the last group today, I’m in the last group tomorrow. Not that it will ever become common, because that heart rate’s still going to be going and the nerves will be flowing, but the more you’re in that situation you know how to deal with that when it comes, because it will come.
“It doesn’t matter what tournament you’re playing, if you’re playing to win you’re going to be nervous. There’s a lot on the line, but I think I’ll know how to handle it.”
Summerhays said he’s never waited out a weather delay to hit just one final shot to cap a round.
“I’ve had some where you play one more hole, but just for one putt, no,” he said. “My caddie, Nick, didn’t even bring the bag down. I had my phone in my pocket and I usually put it in my bag. So it was a strange day. (Friday) night we played until we couldn’t see anything, then I was up early this morning. I went back to the hotel after my round in the morning. Showered again. Dressed again. Ate lunch. Warmed up. It was like three days in one.”