After contending three of the four previous weekends, Heber's Bruce Summerhays knew it was just a matter of time before he captured his second Senior PGA Tour victory.
Summerhays picked up win No. 2 Sunday at the inaugural State Farm Senior Classic in Columbia, Md. - the only new event on the Senior Tour this year - by defeating Hale Irwin and Walter Hall by one shot. Summerhays' $187,500 check was the largest of his career and vaulted him to No. 8 on the Senior Tour money list.In many ways, Summerhays' victory was more thrilling than his first Senior win last September at the Saint Luke's Classic in St. Louis. His wife, Carolyn, who travels with him most weeks but missed his first victory last year, was on hand for this one.
"It's great - really exciting," said Summerhays from his Maryland hotel room Sunday night. "It's a confirmation that my first win wasn't a fluke."
Beating Irwin, who has dominated the Senior Tour for three years and who became golf's all-time leading money winner with Sunday's second-place finish, made the win even sweeter for Summerhays.
"When you can beat Hale Irwin, it's special, because he's the best player out here," he said.
Summerhays credited his victory to aggressive play, as he came from three strokes back to edge Irwin and Hall by one and a group of six others by two. On his round of 69, Summerhays had four bogeys, but he also made seven birdies.
"I was aggressive today, and it paid off," he said. "There's a time to back off, but today wasn't one of them."
During his four seasons on the Senior Tour, Summerhays has often contended, but he's had a tendency to slip in the final round. He feels he's overcome that now because of his experience.
"I feel much more confident in that position now," he said. "It's easier for me coming down the pike at the end of a tournament."
In moving from No. 24 to No. 8 on the senior money list, Summerhays now has $531,646 in earnings this year and more than $2.4 million in three and a half seasons on the Senior Tour.
With two wins to his credit, Summerhays has a new goal in mind: He'd love to win a major.
"I'd really like to do that," he said. "That's what I've really been pointing toward."
The timing for Summerhays' great play couldn't be better because two Senior Tour majors are being played within the next three weeks.
The Ford Senior Players Championship, worth $2 million overall, will be played this week at the TPC of Michigan in Dearborn. Sum-mer-hays was leaving Maryland first thing Monday morning to play in a charity event for children, organized by Dave Stockton.
Then after the Ameritech Senior Open near Chicago, the U.S. Senior Open will be played at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles the following week.
"I'm really looking forward to that," said Summerhays. "I like California golf courses."
The week after the U.S. Open, Summerhays will return to Utah to play in the Utah Showdown, a tournament he nearly won his rookie season on the Senior Tour.
Summerhays, who has earned the moniker "Ironman" because he never takes a week off, said he planned to play in every tournament the rest of the year. However, Sunday's victory may change his plans.
"I may be able to take a couple of weeks off," he said.