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For Daniel Summerhays PGA Tour Is ‘Home Sweet Home’
By KURT KRAGTHORPE
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: August 16, 2011 05:54PMUpdated: August 16, 2011 10:49PM
Jack, Emily, Patton and Daniel Summerhays. Courtesy Image
Daniel Summerhays’ scores in the recent Reno-Tahoe Open added up to even par. So when asked to describe his week, he said wryly, “I made 72 pars.”
Not quite. What appeared as standard-issue rounds (73-71-73-71) were filled with fluctuating numbers that included 17 birdies and back-to-back eagles — offset by triple, quadruple and quintuple bogeys.
Well, the PGA Tour rookie should have known he was in for an adventurous season when he loaded his wife, two sons, golf clubs, toys and other possessions into their 44-foot motor home and left Farmington on New Year’s Day. The family returned home only last week.
Since purchasing the vehicle, they’ve driven more than 50,000 miles in two-plus seasons on the Nationwide and PGA Tours. That includes a long, difficult stretch this year when Summerhays’ game slumped. “The golf ball didn’t know where it was going,” he said, “nor did I know where it was going.”
The former BYU star is one of only three Utah high school golfers who have qualified for the tour in nearly 25 years (following his brother, Boyd, and Brad Sutterfield). As he fights to maintain his status for 2012, his upbeat nature remains in play.
“He’s not weary, he’s not worried, he’s not whining,” said his father, Lynn.
Summerhays’ fellow travelers are not eager for the year to end, either. “We’ve had so much fun,” said his wife, Emily. “People thought we were a little crazy to stay out for seven months, but I’ve enjoyed it and that made it so much easier for the boys.”
Jack is 3½; Patton is almost 2. The boys have spent the year in a traveling preschool, administered by the PGA Tour and attended by many of the same children.
Silly conversations while trying to stay awake, stops in Walmart parking lots to sleep and reactions from folks who picture a tiny pop-up trailer are all part of the fun for their parents. Summerhays, 27, likens his residence to a 700-square-foot apartment and, unlike most golfers, “I get to sleep in my own bed,” he said.
Counting a Nationwide event, Summerhays played 25 tournaments in 30 weeks. The Reno-Tahoe Open was a departure from the usual itinerary. The family parked the motor home on the East Coast and flew to Nevada, then home for a week. Summerhays went back to North Carolina for this week’s Wyndham Championship. Unlikely to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, he intends to play Nationwide events before the PGA Tour’s Fall Series of four tournaments, beginning Sept. 29 in Las Vegas.
“I’m playing really good golf,” he said, summarizing his Reno-Tahoe experience. “There were just some strange things that never, ever happen.”
At least, those out-of-bounds, unplayable-lie and water-hazard penalties did not completely ruin his rounds. For much of the season, problems with his driver resulted in high scores — 11 rounds of 77 or worse, including five in the 80s.
Remarkably consistent last season, when he finished fifth on the Nationwide money list without winning a tournament, Summerhays expected to keep playing well this year, based on projections for Nationwide graduates. Six golfers who played in the 2010 Utah Championship in Sandy, for example, have won PGA Tour titles — including Keegan Bradley, the PGA Championship winner.
Once Summerhays overcame his swing problems, his July results of missing three 36-hole cuts by a total of four strokes were more frustrating in some ways. Money is the scoreboard of pro golf. Summerhays stands 176th ($236,119) and needs to move into at least the top 150 to remain on the PGA Tour. Otherwise, he’ll have Nationwide access as a former champion.
With a long-term career view, Summerhays believes he’ll look back on 2011 as “a really important year” for the sake of experiencing new courses and a higher level of competition.
Along the way, Summerhays has not always liked his golf game, but he’s loved the rest of his life on the road. “I’m with my boys more than most dads,” he said, “and I’m with my wife more than most husbands.”
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Daniel Summerhays started the 2011 PGA Tour well, before being stuck in a long slump. The breakdown of his season:
Events Cuts made Best finish Earnings
First 5 3 T11 $193,226
Next 19 4 T63 $42,893
Between brothers Bruce and Lynn, Utah’s Summerhays family has produced a unique foursome of golfers who qualified to play the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and the LPGA Tour, combining for more than $10 million in earnings. The rundown:
Bruce Summerhays • Having made about $9,000 in occasional PGA Tour appearances as a club pro, he qualified for the Champions Tour in 1994 and became a three-time winner during his 14 full seasons, earning more than $9 million. He’s now a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission president in Tampa, Fla.
Carrie Summerhays Roberts • The youngest of Bruce’s eight children, she qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2002 and played parts of two seasons, earning $17,026. She’s now the BYU women’s golf coach.
Boyd Summerhays • A son of Lynn Summerhays, Boyd qualified for the PGA Tour in 2003 and played parts of three seasons, amid injuries. Between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour, he has earned $88,559. He’s still pursuing a pro career.
Daniel Summerhays • Boyd’s brother, 27, played the Nationwide Tour for parts of four seasons before advancing to the PGA Tour via a top-25 finish on the money list in 2010. His combined earnings are $923,172. Along with Brighton’s Brad Sutterfield, Boyd and Daniel Summerhays, of Davis, are the only Utah high school golfers to qualify for the PGA Tour since Dixie’s Jay Don Blake in 1987.
© 2011 The Salt Lake Tribune