Utah Championship News
PGA Tour card in reach for Utah's Daniel Summerhays
Thursday, 09 September 2010 17:02SANDY — Daniel Summerhays is so close he can almost taste it. Yet, for now, he still has a little work left to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a member of the PGA Tour.
Summerhays, who grew up in Farmington, won the Utah State Amateur at age 16, starred for the BYU golf team, served an LDS mission to Chile, then won a Nationwide Tour event in 2007 while still an amateur, needs to win about $15,000 over the next two months to earn his spot on the big tour.
He'd love to get it this weekend as he competes with 155 other golfers at the Nationwide Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club. The $550,000 annual tournament, which runs today through Sunday, pays $99,000 to the winner.
In his third full year on the Nationwide Tour, Summerhays has won $179,722 and ranks No. 15 on the money list. He figures he needs to win another $20,000 to assure himself a spot among the Top 25 money winners, who each earn an exemption to play on the PGA Tour the following year.
The 26-year-old Summerhays said his game has turned around from last year, when he pocketed $70,540 and ranked 81st on the money list, thanks to a change in attitude.
"It's my attitude, how I talk to myself and what I choose to think about," he said. "I'm really trying to control how I think. It's the only thing we can really control in life, especially in golf. It's telling yourself, no matter what happens, you're still a great player, a great putter, a great ball-striker. It's really been the difference."
Summerhays said he used to beat up on himself if he'd make a poor swing or miss a short putt.
"I'd say to myself, 'I'm losing it again, what's going on?' I still get those bad feelings, but instead, I'll say to myself, 'What a great challenge, what a great opportunity. I get to figure this out, and I'm going to know one more way to figure it out the next time it happens."'
Looking at his record for the year, it appears Summerhays got off to a slow start, missing the cut in four of the first five tournaments. However, he says that's deceiving because he only missed the cut by one shot in three tournaments and by three in another.
"I've played well all year," he said. "But in the past, I would have been saying, 'What's wrong with me; why am I missing cuts?' Instead, I'm saying, 'I'm really close, I'm playing great golf.' I chose to focus on the good things that I was doing and stay optimistic and tell myself good things are about to happen. And sure enough, they did."
In early May at the Stadion UGA Classic in Georgia, Summerhays led for part of the tournament and was tied going into the last hole before losing by one shot. In July, he led the tournament in Columbus, which he won three years earlier as an amateur, much of the way and needed a birdie to force a playoff. Instead, he bogeyed and tied for third. He also contended at Wichita in August before finishing in a tie for fourth.
"I've been in the hunt, and I've learned a lot," he said.
This week, Summerhays will have lots of family and friends following him, which might bring more pressure to his game. However, he said it won't make any difference, because he's under pressure to perform every week.
"My goal is not only to earn my PGA card, but to win," he said. "I'm going to keep working hard and continue to smile and be patient, be happy and be nice to myself through all of this. You never know — good things happen when you least expect it."
TOURNEY NOTES: More than 60 golfers with PGA Tour experience will play this week, led by former PGA champions Rich Beem and Mark Brooks, former PGA runnerup Bob May and two-time winners Jonathan Kaye and Paul Stankowski. ... Also, several local golfers will compete this week, including Lehi's Tony Finau, Sandy's Steve Schneiter, Farmington's Clay Ogden, Eaglewood pro Ryan Rhees, Pleasant Grove's Nic VanVuuren and St. George's Casey Fowles. ... Golfers tee off beginning at 7:40 this morning and after a cut to 60 players and ties after Friday's round, the tournament concludes Sunday afternoon. For information on tickets, visit utahchampionship.com or call 801-495-GOLF.
Willow Creek Country Club
TV: Golf Channel, 4:30 p.m. (Sunday, 5 p.m.)
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