Over the past year, Daniel Summerhays has undergone enough life-changing events to last, well, a lifetime.
Let's see, he quit college to immediately embark on a professional golf career; he and his wife, Emily, had their first child; he played 31 Nationwide Tour events over the past year and also made it to the finals of the PGA Tour qualifying school; he bought a new townhouse and moved; and in his spare time, he finished up his college degree from BYU.
Through it all, Summerhays finds himself on the verge of earning his PGA Tour card for next year if he can come up with a few more solid performances over the next two months to finish among the top 25 money-winners on the Nationwide Tour.
The 24-year-old Summerhays is back home this week to play in the PGA Nationwide Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club. He'll compete with 155 other professionals for the $99,000 first prize in the $550,000 tournament.
"I've gone through so many life changes in the last year," Summerhays said after finishing his practice routine on the Willow Creek range Wednesday. "I'm just now starting to get ahold of the reins, trying to get back to know what's going on. For awhile there I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing."
Summerhays' life changed in a hurry because of the best golf week of his life in July of '07 when he won the Children's Hospital Nationwide event in Ohio as an amateur. After finishing fourth in the NCAA Championships a month earlier, he fully intended to finish his
senior season at BYU. However, the unexpected victory gave him immediate status on the Nationwide Tour, so he turned professional.
In 12 tournaments last year he won $46,926 and, after missing out on the PGA Tour in the fall tournament, rejoined the Nationwide Tour this year.
He had a good spring and was just outside of the coveted top 25 after finishing third in Arkansas, along with three other top 20 finishes. Then came a tough stretch when he missed six straight cuts, several by just one shot.
"There have been a lot of highs and lows," Summerhays said. "It was one or two shots for about six or seven weeks there. That's just how it is. It's a fine line out here where a lip-out or a bad bounce makes the difference. Hopefully I can get to where I don't have to worry as much about making the cut."
After going 0-for-June and July, Summerhays came back to make all three cuts in August, topped by a tie for second in Wichita, where he won $39,200, to put himself back in contention for the Top 25. He currently sits in 34th place on the money list with $125, 675, about $30,000 out of the No. 25 spot.
"If you told me at the start of the year, I'd be 34th on the money list right now, I would have taken it," Summerhays said. "The cuts I've made I've played well in, but there have been a lot of low weeks this year. I've learned a lot and it's been a good growing experience."TOURNEY NOTES: Besides Summerhays, several other golfers with Utah ties will be playing this week, including St. George's Jay Don Blake, who won the Utah Open at Willow Creek in 1988; Keith Clearwater, a two-time PGA Tour winner; Bobby Clampett, the former BYU all-American; Provo's Chris Moody, West Point's Clay Ogden, Draper's Mark Owen, Logan's Tim Hennick and Farmington's Boyd Summerhays, older brother of Daniel. ... Former champions Garrett Willis (2005) and Craig Kanada (2006) are in this year's field. ... Defending champion Franklin Langham withdrew Wednesday for unknown reasons. Among the former notable PGA Tour regulars in the event are Mark Brooks, Bob May and Grant Waite, who won the Utah Open at Willow Creek in 1992.
Nationwide Tour's Utah Championship
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Willow Creek Country Club, Sandy
Total purse: $550,000
First-place prize: $99,000TV: GOLF Channel, 4:30 p.m. each day