Preston Summerhays (Sunnehanna Amateur photo)
We've had today's Sunnehanna Amateur champ Preston Summerhays
on our radar for quite some time.
A top performer on the junior level at AJGA and other events, Summerhays catapulted to the status of USGA Champ with a win at the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur. With that win, he became the third junior golfer to be awarded an exemption to the U.S. Open - so he has that to look forward to in the fall.
Related: Summerhays hits 'shot of a lifetime' on way to U.S. Junior win
But in the meantime, there is plenty of learning and growing to do on the golf course, and Summerhays proved that he's capable of winning a major four-round medal play tournament against a field stock full of Division I golfers.
"Last year after the U.S. Junior, I made some new goals," Summerhays told AmateurGolf.com "I played really well on the high junior level but I thought a new goal would be to win a big amateur event, something slightly more challenging."
And despite the fact that the Arizona State signee didn't need an exemption into the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes this fall, his performance today, and all week, proves Summerhays is one of the players to watch a month from now at Bandon Dunes.
Thursday, Summerhays posted a 4-under 66 to vault himself into a solo lead. But the Sunnehanna has one of the top fields in all of amateur golf, and there was no room to do anything but keep charging.
“I’m just going to keep on playing the way I have been playing,” told the Tribune-Democrat after yesterday's round. “I’m going to attack when I have good numbers with wedges. I’m going to keep practicing my putting and make sure I make those 4 to 8-footers.”
The result? A nearly flawless round of 65 at Sunnehanna Country Club with just a single bogey on the fifth hole. His birdie on No. 18 to close out the win is shown below.
Summerhays loved the back nine all week -- posting 33, 32, and 33, but today's 4-under 31 was his best close of the week, and it provided him a three-shot cushion over a charging Travis Vick.
The University of Texas star started the day a full five shots behind Summerhays, but he caught fire today.
After posting 3-under 32 on the front nine, he made the turn and eagled No. 10, then caught three-straight birdies on Nos. 15-17 to move to 8-under on the round, and 12-under on the tournament. A bogey at the last cost Vick the chance to set the bar one shot lower for Summerhays, still on the course, and playing in the final group at 12-under with two holes to play.
"I was definitely following it," Summerhays said. "The last leaderboard I saw was on number 12. I think at that point I had a two-shot lead."
Birdies on both of those final holes made it a moot point and Vick could rest knowing that his 63, and a solo second-place finish, was as good finish-wise as a 62 would have been. And if you're wondering what the record is, that's a 61 posted by Zack Sucher in 2008.
"Because he [Vick] had such a good day, I thought I'd have to birdie at least one of the last two to either win or get into a playoff, so I stayed aggressive on those holes and made some good birdies."
As for Summerhays, his four rounds in the 60s and birdie-birdie finish are two things he's going to remember for a long time.
With the win, Summerhays tied one record and broke another.
At just 18 years and 2 days old, he is the youngest winner in tournament history, a title previously held by Rickie Fowler, the 2008 champion. And with a tournament total of 14-under, he tied the previous scoring mark held by Allen Doyle.
The name Summerhays is legendary in Utah golf -- Preston's teacher (and father) is Boyd Summerhays, who also has Tony Finau under his wing, and is currently caddying for him at the 3M Open on the PGA Tour, where they are contending. To quote Boyd's website:
"Golf is in my blood. My grandfather, Pres Summerhays, was the head golf coach at the University of Utah. My father, Lynn, played collegiate golf, and for several years served as President of the Utah Junior Golf Association and on the USGA Committee. My uncle, Bruce Summerhays, is a Champions Tour winner and was also an accomplished golf instructor. His daughter, Carrie, is a former LPGA Tour player. My younger brother, Daniel, has played over 8 seasons on the PGA Tour, reaching as high as 53rd in the world rankings."
We'll have what they're having.
LSU star Trey Winstead finished solo third at 10-under, while Quade Cummins (Oklahoma), Connor Schmidt (Drexel), and Brandon Mancheno (Auburn) posted 9-under to tie for fourth. Schmidt made an ace in today's final round, a feat captured on video and tweeted out to the world right after.
Oh, the marvels of modern technology!
It was a great week for Utah golf. In addition to Summerhays' win, Connor Howe of Ogden (and Georgia Tech) finished the Southeastern Amateur in style with a walk-off chip in. And earlier in the week, David Jennings made headlines in the Utah Mid-Amateur, coming from 10 shots back on the final day with a 60.
With his finish, Quade Cummins has taken over No. 1 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking, marking the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit that the top spot has changed hands. Chun An Yu (Chinese Taipei, Arizona State) is No. 2 and John Park (Scotch Plains, N.J., Florida State) is No. 3.