KORN FERRY TOUR INSIDER
Summerhays reflects on magical week at Utah Championship
July 21, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Utah native Daniel Summerhays authored an emotional runner-up performance at last month's Utah Championship. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
After Daniel Summerhays wrapped up a dream week, he saw he had 187 text messages from friends, family, and well-wishers. It was nearly a storybook ending to his career.
At the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank in late June, Summerhays announced the event, played at the course he grew up on, would be his final one as a professional. Come September, he was going to take a job as a physical education and business teacher at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. He was also going to coach the boys’ golf team.
While Summerhays’ plan remains, he isn’t quite done playing the Korn Ferry Tour yet.
He told PGA TOUR Digital he’ll likely play next month’s Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco, with one of his assistant coaches taking the reins on the event he’ll miss during Thursday’s opening round.
“I was keeping my options open,” he said.
Summerhays hadn’t yet played in 2020 on the Korn Ferry Tour, or anywhere, really, as he had a double foot and ankle surgery in January. Four bone fragments that had broken off were removed, and both ankles were scoped. He ended up having a subchondroplasty procedure completed, a new technique to fix a stress fracture (essentially the inside of his foot was cleaned out and bone cement was injected).
Daniel Summerhays makes final professional start at Utah Championship
“I could definitely feel it the next weekend when I went to Colorado and the golf course was 8,000 yards. It was a tight turnaround. I just ran out of steam,” he said.
After the final round in Utah, Summerhays was on a text thread with his brother Boyd Summerhays, PGA TOUR winner Tony Finau, and recent Korn Ferry Tour grad Scott Harrington. The trio on the other side of the thread joked it didn’t take long for them to find who had the ‘Shortest Retirement in the History of Sports,’ as Summerhays committed to playing the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes the week after.
“At just 2.5 hours: Daniel Summerhays!” wrote Harrington.
“You know the only guy in the world not cheering for you on Sunday was the principal at Davis High School,” replied Finau.
Summerhays ended up playing in Colorado since he and his family were driving to Missouri to visit his wife’s parents. They stopped on the way so Summerhays could tee it up again. Their family trip was extended by a few days for Summerhays to come out of his, very brief, retirement.
Although he’s quick to laugh to recall the text thread and said it’s likely he’s not quite done yet, he feels that time soon approaching.
“That doesn’t feel like it’s my next step,” he said about potentially going after a TOUR card one more time. “I woke up the next morning in Utah after almost winning and I still felt the same. Even though I went from having no Korn Ferry status to essentially full status by the reshuffle, I really didn’t feel any different. Now that I’m so close to the TOUR card that I need to chase it, I actually felt the opposite.
“I felt happy and like I had made the right decision to change paths and pursue teaching and coaching and private golf instruction. That’s still ‘Plan A,’ but life continues to throw curves at us.”
One of the reasons he feels his time has come to an end is the high level of competition week after week. His peers are mechanically, mentally and physically better, he said. They’re bigger, faster and stronger.
“The depth is so deep, it’ll run old 36-year-olds like me right out of the business,” he said with a laugh.
“I think you can continue to see the greatest generation of golfers on the way because even Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau and all these guys … they’re amazing. But then there’s Joaquin Niemann who is even younger, and guys like that eat, breathe and sleep (golf). You look at the leaderboards and 25 guys shoot 5-under, 12 shoot 6-under, five guys shoot 5-under, three shoot 8-under and one or two shoot 9-under. I don’t care where you’re playing, that’s amazing.”
Still, Summerhays looks back on the week in Utah with only joy in his heart. How could he not?
He said if someone told him before the week started that he would have been in a playoff to win come Sunday, he would have just laughed.
“On the other side of it, I was like, ‘Holy cow, I was half an inch from walking away with a ‘W’ at my home club,’” he said. “Beforehand it would be amazing and after the fact it would have been pretty sweet to have a walk-off win. Even though it wasn’t a win, it was still a fine way to walk off on your home club.”
Or a near walk-off, in this case.
Summerhays said he was inundated by support through Sunday night and into Monday, the near-200 text messages aside. All of the staff at the club and the volunteers in Utah managed to find their way to the 18th green during the playoff. Despite the fact there were no fans allowed on-site, people were still finding a way to root him on.
“To have that amount of people supporting you, and they were going to support me if I was a high school business and (physical education) teacher or a PGA TOUR pro, so that was the overwhelming thing, to know that whatever path I chose, everyone was going to have my back,” he said. “That’s an amazing feeling and an emotional thing to think about, that so many people have your support that way.”
And maybe there’s still one last empty page in his story ready to be filled in Boise.