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‘New Grip’ ‘On Life’ Helps Summerhays Earn PGA Tour Card

By Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: January 2, 2011 04:46PM

For Daniel Summerhays, 2010 was a watershed year. And not just because his potential for hitting a golf ball blossomed into full realization.
The Farmington native earned his PGA Tour card for 2011 with a summer of consistency that left him fifth on the Nationwide Tour money list. The key to Summerhays’ best summer as a professional was beating his toughest foe ­— Daniel Summerhays.
“He’s going through the process of learning to find happiness, regardless of how you’re doing,” said Summerhays’ father, Lynn. “He’s learning to be optimistic, to find that happy spirit. He’s learned to enjoy the journey.”
Summerhays tees off as a PGA Tour member Jan. 10 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The nature of golf allows ample time to ruminate on failure. The big picture slips away when one bad shot becomes a bad hole, which turns into a bad round and a missed cut and no check to show the family waiting in the motor home.
Mental strength is as important as a good short game.
“Last year was a very difficult year,” Summerhays said. “I learned a lot as far as the right way to think. I was beating myself up too much.”
Summerhays played with too much negativity. He’d hit nine good drives but focus on the one that got away.
“I was quick to forget the good things,” he said.
And there were plenty of good things. While at BYU, the fireplug of a golfer — 5-foot-8, 200 pounds — once shot a round of 60. In 2007, Summerhays captured the Children’s Hospital Invitational to became the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.
Summerhays’ first full year on the Nationwide saw him make 16 cuts and finish 35th on the money list, so close to the top 25, which automatically earns a PGA Tour card.
Then came 2009. Summerhays plummeted to 81st.
“Focusing for four days is the hardest thing in golf,” said Summerhays’ older brother Boyd, who earned his PGA Tour card in 2004. “That’s what he did this year. He let things roll off of him.”
Summerhays began to change his outlook late in 2009. He spoke with friends and his golf-rich family.
Summerhays allowed himself to think confidently of his own abilities.
“A buddy who caddies for me said, ‘When I hear of Daniel Summerhays, I think of a great guy, a state champion. Who do you think you are?’ ”
It was a wake-up call.
“I thought, ‘I’m just a golfer.’ I definitely wasn’t thinking of myself as what I could be.”
Summerhays, who vowed to change his mental preparation and to begin realizing his goals and dreams, needed a change of outlook to begin 2010.
He missed five of his first six cuts.
Then on May 2 came the first of his three second-place finishes, an 11-under total that brought with it a $59,400 check.
From that point, he made the cut in 13 of his next 16 events, including back-to-back second-place finishes. In total, Summerhays finished in the top 10 seven times and earned nearly $400,000.
“Experience and maturity wears well on most of us,” Lynn Summerhays said. “Nobody gains that without a good, solid life experience.”
There was one odd aspect to Summerhays’ season. Although he was arguably the most consistent golfer on the Nationwide Tour, he failed to win. In the past, that would have become a burden, one that potentially could have derailed the final goal, which was a PGA Tour card.
“Definitely, one of my goals is to win,” Summerhays said. “I put myself in situations to win numerous times. It was a little frustrating.
“But you can have a good professional career finishing second.”
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The family tee
» Daniel Summerhays’ brother Boyd and uncle Bruce have played on the PGA Tour, while cousin Carrie Roberts played on the LPGA Tour.
» Summerhays finished fifth on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2010, good enough to earn his PGA Tour card for 2011.
» Summerhays, who attended BYU and once shot a round of 60, in 2007 became the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.