Daniel Summerhays is finding out how fickle golf can be.
The former BYU player and two-time Utah State Amateur champion is an outstanding golfer.
In fact, it’s safe to say right now he is the hottest professional golfer nurtured on Utah drinking water.
This month, the Farmington native who's part of the famous Summerhays bloodlines, found himself a couple of shots from qualifying for the British Open and from winning his first and second PGA Tour events.
He entered that magic zone in golf when it all comes together, the hole looks the size of a manhole, and birdies are about all a golfer makes. He’s also found out, like Tiger Woods, that the margin between playing outstanding golf and actually winning is so spectacularly thin, it can be scary.
Just ask Phil Mickelson. A few months ago he was so depressed he could hardly get out of bed. Then in Scotland, he won back-to-back tournaments, including the British Open in one of the most memorable golfing displays the game has ever seen. During the course of a couple of weeks across the pond, he made $2.4 million and everyone’s highlight collection.
A few big misses, one bad shot, and you are hoisting up a trophy. Or not.
Daniel has always known this. But the month of July is especially a reminder for the young Summerhays, who turned professional in 2007. He was the first amateur to ever win a Nationwide Tour event when he did so as a collegiate player in Columbus, Ohio.
Daniel’s got game.
His uncle, Bruce Summerhays, is a former successful Champions Tour veteran and he and his cousins have made a big impact on Utah golf.
To provide perspective on how good this year has been for Summerhays, he has four top-four finishes at PGA Tour events. That’s one better than Luke Donald, Zach Johnson and the same as U.S. Open Champion Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Summerhays currently ranks No. 66 in the FedEx standings for the tour championship series and is ranked higher than Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Rory Sabbatini, Camilo Villegas, Padraig Harrington, Stuart Appleby and Vijay Singh.
By the way, legendary Fred Couples ranks 174th on that list.
His season has been a roller coaster, but at least he’s been on the ride, holding on to the safety bar with a front seat in the most competitive golf experience on the planet.
When he missed the cut this past week at the Canadian Open, it marked the 10th time this season that's happened.
On the other hand, in July, Summerhays made enough shots and big plays that he should have registered his first PGA Tour victory. His July was that good.
In the John Deere Classic July 11-14, he fired a remarkable third-round 62, a card with 10 birdies and just one bogey. He had rounds of 65, 67, 62 and 72. He had a three-shot lead heading into the final round and needed a par on the 72nd hole to get into a playoff. His approach shot on 18 landed in a greenside bunker with a buried downhill lie, forcing him to use two strokes to get out of the beach on a par-4 hole.
The following week at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., he played in the final group, made it into a playoff for another chance at the winner’s check. Summerhays had rounds of 63, 67, 69 and 69 with a week of 21 birdies and one eagle.
In those two tournaments, Summerhays had 48 birdies. He finished better than some of the most famous players in the game.
This week, he’s back in Utah, taking a break from his labors, spending some family time.
Despite missing the cut 10 times, if you think about it, Summerhays has had a remarkable run in 2013. Back at the end of May and into June he wondered how in the world he was going to keep his PGA Tour card for next season. Now he’s looking at the FedEx Cup standings and hoping he can make a run into the tour championship.
Of this dilemma, which golf presents to every player, Summerhays was quoted recently as saying that it all boils down to one important ingredient in this crazy game:
Said young Daniel: "I think what I need to be careful of is that when it doesn't happen, I need to continue to be patient with myself because nobody masters golf; it masters us and you just have to be careful to not get down on yourself because good things can happen right around the corner. Like four weeks ago at Congressional I shot 15 over par and then the next three weeks I'm ninth, fourth and second."
And so the dimpled orb rolls.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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