What a thrill. I'm still shaking a little bit. Just to have a chance to maybe win a major championship was a thrill of a lifetime. —Daniel Summerhays
Daniel Summerhays’ back-nine rally wasn’t quite enough for a PGA Championship, but he did secure his best finish ever in a major tournament and in the process earned himself an invitation to the most coveted of all the majors, the Masters, in Augusta, Georgia, next spring.
Summerhays shot a final-round 66, which gave him a four-round total of 270, four strokes behind winner Jimmy Walker and three behind 2015 PGA champion Jason Day.
“What a thrill,” Summerhays told Golf Digest after his fourth round at Baltusrol Golf Club. “I'm still shaking a little bit. Just to have a chance to maybe win a major championship was a thrill of a lifetime.”
After Summerhays made an eagle at No. 2 in Saturday’s third round, play was suspended for the day. So he had to come back early Sunday morning and finished his third round with 13 straight pars before making birdies at 16 and 18 for his second straight 67.
In his afternoon 18 Sunday, Summerhays played the front nine in even par, before he got rolling on the back nine.
He sank a 40-foot putt for birdie at No. 12, then made a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 13. He bogeyed 14 when he couldn’t get up and down from a bunker and then rolled in birdie putts at 15 from 11 feet and 16 from 14 feet. He had great chances on the final two holes to pick up two more strokes, but his 20-foot birdie putt at 17 came up two inches short as did his 45-foot eagle putt at 18.
"Couldn't ask for a better finish," Summerhays said. "I'm going to sleep really well tonight."
A cherry on top for his fine finish, which earned him a check of $680,000, was an automatic invitation to the Masters, awarded to the top four finishers at the PGA.
“That's a lifetime dream,” he said. “I have got the Augusta theme song memorized. I've got the words and everything. I can hear Jim Nantz’s voice in the back of my mind. 'Hello friends, welcome to Augusta National.' It's been a dream."
Summerhays moved up to No. 39 in the FedEx Cup standings and increased his money winnings for the year to $1,893,328.