Jones wins Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank
June 28, 2020
By Stewart Moore, PGATOUR.COM
- June 28, 2020
Kyle Jones interview after winning the Utah Championship
FARMINGTON, Utah – On a day when local legend Daniel Summerhays captured the attention of social media and golf fans around the world, it was Kyle Jones who wound up walking away with the title at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank. Jones, a member of the PGA TOUR during the 2018-19 season, birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Summerhays and Paul Haley II en route to earning his first career victory on Tour.
Jones and Haley entered Sunday’s final round at host Oakridge Country Club with a share of the 54-hole lead at 17-under 196. But the duo quickly took a backseat to Summerhays, who entered the day having already declared it his last as a professional golfer with a plan in place to return to his alma mater – Davis High School in nearby Kaysville – to teach and coach the golf team.
“It’s hard to say it, but after a pretty long, above-average career on the PGA TOUR, I’m going to step away and go another direction for a while,” Summerhays said earlier in the week. “I’m going to try the education system and move into a teacher-mentor role rather than the touring-golf-pro role.”
That plan was put into question early during the fourth and final round, as four birdies on his opening nine paired with birdies on 11 and 13, an eagle on 15, and follow-up birdies on 16 and 17 pushed the former BYU star to 21-under for the week.
Daniel Summerhays, for all intent and purposes, was trending on social media.
“Honestly, I was going to be happy with shooting under-par today,” Summerhays said. “To come out and shoot a 9-under 62 at my home club with some shifty winds was more than I ever could’ve asked for.”
On his 72nd hole, the longtime Oakridge Country Club member – who played a big part in bringing the Utah Championship to his home course a few years ago – closed with an unlikely bogey to post a final-round 62 and 20-under in the clubhouse while the final grouping had over two hours still to play.
Jones and Haley rallied down the stretch to catch Summerhays, with the former posting birdies on 15 and 17 to match at 20-under, and the latter doing the same with birdies on 13 and 15.
On the par-4 18th, while Summerhays warmed up on the range for a possible playoff, Haley hit his approach to approximately 40 feet while Jones punched out from the right rough, over the green and chipping back downhill to a right hole location. Jones nearly holed his third as it settled to 3 feet, while Haley jammed his tournament-winning birdie try 8 feet past the hole, leaving a delicate right-to-left comeback to force his way into a playoff.
Both players converted, and the trio headed to the 517-yard par-4 10th for the first playoff hole as an unlikely rainstorm pelted down.
After all three players struggled off the tee on No. 10 with umbrellas and rain suits quickly becoming the norm, they each laid up and left themselves with lengthy par tries to win or stay alive.
First to putt was Summerhays. From 20 feet, his putt narrowly missed just to the left as he gave a look of surprise only a club member could author.
Haley, on a similar line, converted his par try, as did Jones, leaving one of 2020’s best stories on the outside looking in.
“My eyes got really big on my last putt. It looked like it was in the left center and just teetered off to the left,” Summerhays said of his putt on the first extra hole. “We all had similar length putts. I was excited to be able to go first and try and out the pressure on and I thought I had done it. Kyle was pretty steely right there making that putt and finishing off with a birdie. Hats off to them, it was great playing and fun to be in the position again.”
Jones and Haley returned to the par-4 18th, where Jones’ approach spun off the fringe down to 7 feet. Haley was faced with a lengthy birdie try and burned the edge. Moments later, Jones converted the putt for his first Korn Ferry Tour title.
“Honestly, right now, I’m pretty speechless. I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite a while,” Jones said after the win. “I knew I was good enough to win out here and I just hadn’t been able to crack through. It feels pretty good, I’m pretty speechless right now.”
With the victory, Jones moved up to No. 8 on the Korn Ferry Tour points list and in prime position to make an extended run at a return to the PGA TOUR in 2021 with the new wraparound season coming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Haley, the playoff loss is a potential gamechanger as the former PGA TOUR member and Georgia Tech standout failed to advance to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in 2019, and in turn had to return to Q-School and finished T41. The 32-year-old, who won the Tour’s Chile Classic in 2012, jumped up to No. 29 on the points list following his near miss in Utah.
For the 36-year-old Summerhays, in his post-loss press conference, there was a bit of reflection. Was it time to turn away from a life in golf? He won the Korn Ferry Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship as an amateur in 2007; lost in a playoff at the PGA TOUR’s Sanderson Farms Championship in 2013; in 2016, gained entry into the U.S. Open as the fourth alternate and wound up T8 for the week; that same year, finished solo-third at the PGA Championship with six birdies in his final 10 holes to earn his lone career trip to the Masters Tournament.
That torrid run in major championships was just four years ago.
“It would’ve been unbelievable to take the trophy home and to have one more,” Summerhays said. “We’ll have a little family meeting and we’ll evaluate how I want to see the rest of the summer go and what we’re doing.”