Summerhays looks to recapture first-win magic
November 21, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Daniel Summerhays won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship as an amateur in 2007. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Daniel Summerhays went to the 2007 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship as nothing more than a celebrated collegiate golfer looking for some experience.
What he left with was a new career.
In just the second Korn Ferry Tour start of his career, Summerhays won the event against a field of seasoned professionals and future TOUR winners. He immediately turned pro and his journey in professional golf began.
“It has always been my goal and dream to play on the PGA TOUR," Summerhays told PGATOUR.com at the time. "So the opportunity to play on the (Korn Ferry Tour) the rest of the season and the exemption for 2008 was just too much to pass up.”
Summerhays still remembers the feeling of standing over his final five-footer to finish off the two-stroke victory on the newly redesigned Scarlet Course at Ohio State University.
“I remember the last round being pretty nervous, but I was confident in my game,” Summerhays said. “It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever, and it got my professional career started.”
Summerhays left Brigham Young University that summer after finishing as a first-team All-American to play the rest of the season on the Korn Ferry Tour. He wasn’t able to replicate his excellent play from his maiden victory, but he did maintain status until finally breaking through and graduating to the PGA TOUR in 2010.
There have been a handful of memorable moments for Summerhays since that initial victory -- including two top-10 finishes in major championships in 2016 -- but he has yet to recapture that winning form from 2007.
Now at the age of 35, Summerhays is attempting to get back to the PGA TOUR via the Korn Ferry Tour, where his professional golf journey began 12 years ago. He advanced to the Final Stage of Q-School -- guaranteeing himself at least conditional status in 2020 -- on the number at his site in Murrieta, California. He’ll need a top-40 finish at Final Stage to lock up guaranteed starts.
“Golf is such an interesting sport where you can’t ever conquer it,” Summerhays said. “When you think you have it, you don’t. When you don’t think you have it, sometimes you do. That’s my biggest motivator right now.”
Getting back on the PGA TOUR and being in the thick of that competition is high on his priority list. Having made 128 cuts in his career, if he gets to 150 he’ll be able to play out of a special category for veteran members moving forward.
“Golf has been my career, and I don’t see me doing anything else,” Summerhays said. “I played on the (PGA TOUR) for eight years and had lots of good finishes. Although I never won on TOUR I’ve been close several times. To have a chance to win on TOUR would be amazing.”
First, though, he’ll need to get back there. But he feels like he has a good a shot as any to lock up guaranteed starts at Final Stage.
Summerhays teed it up at a special event at Pebble Beach this week, where he got to play the iconic layout twice in three days, and he’s been able to work on his short game to continue tightening up his scoring opportunities until Final Stage in mid-December.
“That’s probably the one area of my game that needs some work,” he admits. “Sometimes you get into that Florida wind and doesn’t matter how good you hit it, you end up missing some greens.”
It’s a serious time in Summerhays’ journey as he has a laser-like focus on what’s to come in his life and career, but at the end of the day he’s still trying to make golf fun.
It’s a lesson passed on to him by his incredibly golf-obsessed family.
His grandfather, Preston, was a caddie at the old Salt Lake Country Club and passed the love of golf on to Summerhays’ father and uncles. They would sneak under the fence at dusk at the course and play a four-hole loop before a marshal chased them off the course.
Summerhays’ family has golf running through its veins with his uncle Bruce a PGA TOUR Champions winner, his cousin Carrie having played on the LPGA Tour, father Lynn a star collegiate golfer, and of course, brother Boyd.
“Our family tournaments are very competitive to say the least,” Summerhays said with a laugh.
That competitive nature instilled by friendly competitions with his golf-obsessed family will need to be fully honed in as he heads to Florida for Final Stage in three weeks. But Summerhays is confident in his position and where his game is.
“There are a lot of really good players (at Final Stage) but I feel confident,” Summerhays said. “I’ll put in a lot of work and be ready in a few weeks.”