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Reminiscing About Finau, Summerhays and Utah State Am

Here is a compilation of some stories about Daniel Summerhays and Tony Finau that appear in the History of the Utah State Amateur, an ebook that all Utah golfers should have. The book can be downloaded to an Ipad free by going to wiredballywho.com/golf-history. The book was sponsored by Siegfried and Jensen.

These stories are in no particular order:

#5 Best Matches in History of Utah State Am

2002 – First Round Match 

Hidden Valley

Gregg Oliphant vs. Daniel Summerhays

This Cinderella Story is better than the Cinderella Story. It actually happened, and perhaps it deserves the number one ranking. This unlikely match was between two of the quietest, most unassuming, modest young gentlemen you’ll ever meet. Daniel Summerhays was modest beyond reason. He had nothing to be modest about. He was the two-time defending champion and of course, the number one seed. 

Oliphant was justifiably modest. Perhaps he was one of the most unlikely 32nd seeds in the history of the tournament. Webster should change the definition of upset to Oliphant. He chipped in on the second hole to stay alive in a nine-man playoff for the 32nd seed and then drilled a 25-foot birdie putt to win the spot.

So here he was, walking to the first tee in the feature match of the day, his first State Am match ever, to play against a guy who was standing on the tee because he had won ten straight matches. He had earned the right to be there. His opponent was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb. 

The official starter introduced the champion and recounted his already long list of achievements and then the champion hit it right down the middle as expected. 

The starter didn’t know what to say about Oliphant except that he was there because he ‘lucked’ in a couple of shots to become the 32nd ranked player in the event.

When Oliphant nervously stepped to the tee and his tentative shot landed on the fairway it was a real victory. One battle won. It shooed away the butter flies in his stomach. The fairway was his comfort zone and he was there. Could he ever win a hole against Summerhays? Could he ever tie a hole? Each shot calmed the nerves, and when it was all over he had won two more holes than Summerhays and there was only one hole to play. 

The Cinderella story was coming true. The shoe fit. 

The other opponents weren’t as intimidating, and there were more victories, Daniel Smith, Blair Bingham, Bob Mitchell, and then came the last match, the championship match, and it was against the player he was most comfortable with, Jon Morgan, his best friend, the one he played golf with nearly every day, and now he was playing him for the Utah State Amateur championship for real, not just make-belief. 

Oliphant won that match 2 and 1, and now the shoe not only fit, but he could wear it the rest of his life—-Utah State Amateur champion.

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Future Titans Clash for State Am Title!

Finau Upsets Summerhays

When Daniel Summerhays was 16-years-old he defeated BYU golfer and past Utah State Am champion Billy Harvey to win the 2000 Utah State Amateur at Oakridge. In 2006 history repeated itself with Summerhays, as a BYU golfer and past champion, become the victim of another rising 16-year-old, Tony Finau, 3 and 2.

The 2006 championship match at Soldier Hollow brought together two young titans of Utah golf: Tony Finau, the 16-year-old Polynesian who had been glamorized by the press for his prodigiously long drives, and Daniel Summerhays, already a two-time State Am champion and playing in his first State Am since returning from an LDS mission, who won his first State Am title when he was 16, won the next year as well, and was now looking for his third. It was a match made by dream-makers.

In match play Finau went through Steele DeWald, 3 and 1; Casey Fowles, 3 and 1; John Owen, 6 and 5; and Nic Van Vuuren, 3 and 2, never having to play the 18th hole.

Summerhays drubbed senior Rob Bachman, 9 and 8, winning the first eight holes before Bachman could take a deep breath; Brady Stanger, 4 and 3; and then edged another phenom, Clay Ogden, his good friend, his Cougar teammate, and the reigning U.S. Public Links Champion in a cliff-hanger match of 20 holes, one of the classics in tournament history; and then yet another State Am stalwart in the semifinals, Carl Jensen, 3 and 2.

The final pairing was the frosting on the delicious tournament cakes, yes, cakes being plural.

The tournament was made up of three cakes, (1) the 36-hole stroke play qualifying and then (2) the five rounds of match play. The qualifying is usually an interesting, but incidental part of the tournament, but in this case the qualifying nearly upstaged the main event. It should be noted that it was the largest field in tournament history, 295 players playing two qualifying rounds on the Gold and Silver Courses at Soldier Hollow, and when it was all said and done the second youngest player in the field held the trophy above his head at the awards ceremony.

Clay Ogden, who became one of very few Utah national champions when he won the USGA National Public Links Championship the previous fall (which included an exempt spot in the Masters), was like cream rising to the top when he emerged as medalist in the 36-hole qualifying on rounds of 67-70-137. It was special to have a USGA National Champion as medalist of the Utah State Am.

Somehow, in this tournament-of-tournaments, even that quality performance was upstaged when Michael McRae, whose score didn’t count because he was the defending champion and was already assured of the number one seed, posted a Gold Course record of 67 on Wednesday and then on Thursday upstaged his own show by setting the Silver Course record with a fabulous 62. 

His non-counting 36-hole score of 129 was eight shots ahead of Ogden, the actual medalist, and had the tournament buzzing with excitement.

And that still isn’t the full story. Michael’s younger brother Robert was playing in the group behind and shot a 66 on the Silver Course, which would have been the course record had he been playing in the group in front of his brother instead of behind him.

The qualifying is what it is—the qualifying. Thirty-two survive. 

Match play is where it is—with only one survivor.

Michael McRae won his first two matches, but got bumped in the quarters by a hot Nic Van Vuuren, 1-up, and brother Robert got bumped by Carl Jensen in the second round, also 1-up.

And so back to the end of the story, the championship match which we lost track off because of all the interesting sidebars.

Summerhays took an early lead on the morning front nine, but Finau shot a 33 on the back nine and held a three-up lead at intermission. The closest Summerhays could get in the afternoon was two holes, and the match concluded on the 16th green of the Gold Course with Summerhays giving Finau a respectful hug and congratulating him on his great play.

Afterwards Finau said, “When I practice I don’t imagine it’s a 30-footer to win the U.S. Open, it’s to win the Utah State Amateur. I’ve dreamed about it ever since Danny won the title at Oakridge.”

It’s wonderful when dreams come true.

Ironically, it was the last appearance in the Utah State Am for Finau. It was one dream fulfilled and then onto other dreams.

Prominent Utah Golf Families

From when the four Von Elm brothers, George, Roy, Leonard, and Henry took up golf at the beginning of the last century families have played an important role in the game of golf in Utah, and it is also true of the history of the Utah State Am.

George Von Elm won the State Am when he was 15 and a dozen years later had brought the attention of the world to Utah golf by beating Bobby Jones for the U.S. Am and winning the U.S. Open in what is still the longest playoff in golf history.

He left the state for greener pastures, but his brothers remained active on the local scene and played in the State Am numerous time.

The Schneiter brothers, George and Ernie, and their sons of the same name, were also important figures in the growth of the sport in Utah. But they leaned to the professional side and didn’t play much in the State Am. George Jr. did earn the distinction of being the last player to defeat Bill Korns in the State Am, and his son Steve won the State Am in 1982.

Other Utah families to play important roles in Utah golf and in the Utah State Am have been the Summerhayses, Ridds, Blairs, Barkers, and Brancas, and others.

Another very prominent family stole the headlines and hearts of Utahns when the three Hiskey brothers from Idaho each won the State Am during a ten year period, Sonny in 1952, Jimmy in 1955, and Babe in 1962. There are no other brothers to have won the title, let alone all three of them. 

Summerhays Family Most Prominent in Utah Golf

Utah has many well known and respected golfing families, but with the ascension of Daniel Summerhays to the PGA Tour, the most prominent Utah golf family, and the one with the most tentacles, is the Summerhays family. Daniel Summerhays is clearly Utah’s top performing golfer, and in the previous generation his uncle Bruce Summerhays played on both the PGA Tour and the PGA Champions Tour and is in the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, and both are past Utah State Amateur champions.

However, the first Summerhays name on the Utah State Am scoreboard was that of Preston Summerhays, better known as Pres, the All American football player and coach at the University of Utah.

It all started in 1926 when Pres, at the age of 20, entered the Utah State Am at Forest Dale, and to put it in perspective with Utah golf history, that was the same year George Von Elm defeated Bobby Jones for the U.S. Amateur title. In his first State Am Pres qualified for match play and was resoundingly defeated, 12 and 11. Yes. That’s right. In those days even the first round matches were 36-holes.

During those years Pres was an All American running back on the University of Utah football team that went undefeated. After graduating he moved to Price as a coach at the high school and college, and although he had just dabbled at golf his attraction to the game was evidenced when he became the driving force in the development and construction of the Carbon Country Club. He envisioned the golf course, designed it, and made it happen through community effort. Apparently those traits have a genetic connection as they are found commonly in the Summerhays family.

Pres reached match play in the State Am for the third time in 1946 at The Country Club, and for the third time lost in the first round, this time to Greeley Timothy, 1-up. That was the last time he played in the State Am and he finished with a 0-3 record. His brothers, Mel and Larry, also played in the State Am and each also lost their only matches. So it was not a very illustrious start in the State Am for the Summerhays family.

Second Generation of Summerhayses

During that time Pres instilled the love of golf in his three sons, Bruce, Gary, and Lynn, and that may be his greatest legacy. The family home was then near the lower portion of The Country Club and the three brothers learned the game playing those lower holes in the early evening.

“We have fond memories of those times,” said youngest brother Lynn. “Those in charge knew we were playing there, but they graciously turned their heads and let three young boys have some fun.”

The impact of that kindness has had reverberations on Utah golf ever since and the initial impact of it came in 1966 when Bruce Summerhays dominated Utah golf more so than any other individual had ever done in a single year. He won the Western Athletic Conference title, the Provo Open, the Brigham City Open, the Salt Lake City Amateur, the City Parks Open, and the Utah State Amateur.

In that State Am at Oakridge Country Club he defeated John Evans, 1-up; Arlen Peacock in 19 holes; Mike Nelson, 2 and 1; and then had to remind his younger brother Lynn the importance of respecting his elders, and showed no mercy in beating him 6 and 5 in the semifinals. It was only the second match of brothers in the history of the tournament, the first one being between the Gwilliam brothers.

Bruce then faced Craig Ridd, one of the sons of the great Jack Ridd, in the championship match. To understand the tension and importance of the match one must recognize that a family rivalry was developing that wasn’t going well for the Summerhays side.

In 1964 Jack Ridd won the Utah State Am when it was a stroke play tournament and Bruce Summerhays finished second, two shots behind Ridd. In 1965, when the State Am returned to match play format, Summerhays got the props knocked out from under him in the first round by none other than Jack Ridd, 2 and 1, and then Ridd added fuel to the rivalry by knocking off Bruce’s younger brother Gary in the quarterfinals.

So now, in the 1966 championship match, Bruce had to face one of Jack’s two identical twin sons, Craig, who had beaten Jim Farrell, two future State Am champions Brian Goldsworthy and Reid Goodliffe, and All American U of U hoopster Arnie Ferrin. Folks, this is big time stuff. These are big time players. Drum roll please.

Bruce redeemed some Summerhays pride that day by defeating Craig, 4 and 3, and that remains as one of the classic State Am matches between two prominent golfing families

That was the last State Am for both Bruce and Lynn.

Third Generation of Summerhayses

The stage has now been set so let the curtain rise for the Third Act of the Summerhays Show. 

Bruce turned professional, moved out of state, and had a Hall of Fame career on the PGA Tour and the PGA Champions Tour and was eventually inducted in the Utah Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. He and his wife Carolyn raised eight children, four of whom became wonderful golfers, Bryan, Joseph, Bruce, Jr., and a daughter Carrie, who is a former UGA Women’s Match Play Champion and head coach of the BYU women’s golf team.

Lynn went a different direction. He gave up competitive golf for religious and family reasons and never played tournament golf again, but his impact on golf was just beginning. He and his wife Ann raised seven children, three of whom became wonderful golfers David, Boyd, and Daniel.

Lynn became the president and key volunteer administrator of the Utah Junior Golf Association. Through his leadership and the careful guidance of Executive Director Jeff Thurman the association grew into one of the best junior golf programs in the country. In recognition of his unusual dedication and success in service of junior golf Lynn was presented with the UGA’s highest honor, the UGA Gold Club in 1996.

Pres’s other son Gary played golf as a youngster, but with 12 kids found that soccer was a lot easier on the family pocketbook and he has done for soccer in California what his siblings have done for golf in Utah. A soccer field in Sacramento carries his name in recognition of his service.

Lynn’s two sons, Boyd and Daniel, were highly ranked junior players and were in the national golf spotlight early in their lives. Daniel won the esteemed Junior World championship of his age group when he was ten years old. Boyd was ranked among the nation’s best junior players throughout his junior golf career and lost in the semifinals of the USGA National Junior Championship to his good friend and fellow Utah Junior Golf Association player, Scott Hailes. Hailes went on to win the national title with Boyd as his caddie, the first such title for a Utahn since George Von Elm won the US Amateur in 1926. 

Boyd’s State Am career, given his national reputation, was fraught with disappointments. Despite being only 15-years old he was one of the favorites going into the 1994 State Am at Ogden Golf and Country Club. He tied for medalist honors and lost in a playoff to Mark Domm, but became the number three seed behind Domm and the defending champion Brett Wayment.

The number three seed turned out to be an unlucky one for Summerhays because by chance it paired him against popular Ogden Golf and Country member Kurt Moore who was a former basketball star at Weber State and was becoming famous for his prodigious drives. It was the young 15-year-old playing his first State Am match against a popular and experienced athlete on his home turf. Could the youngster withstand the pressure? The drama was intensified by the death of Moore’s mother whose funeral he attended just prior to the second round of medal play. He played poorly that day and had to survive a six-way playoff to earn the 29th seed against Summerhays. The pairing excited the locals and the largest non-championship match gallery in the history of the tournament gathered for the show. It was one of the great matches in tournament history (see Greatest Matches) and Moore won when Summerhays failed to make a tying birdie putt on the 18th hole. It was a disappointing blow for the youngster.

His cousin, Joe Summerhays, the son of Bruce, was in the other bracket and advanced to the finals where he lost to Jerimie Montgomery, also 1-up. Had Boyd won the match against Moore and advanced to the finals it would have been against his cousin, but that didn’t happen. (Ironically, in later years, it was Montgomery, not Moore, who went on to win the National Long Drive Championship.)

The next year, 1995 in Logan, Boyd advanced to the quarterfinals, but lost to eventual champion John Tagge, 3 and 2.

At that point he temporarily put golf on the shelf and went on an LDS mission.

His next State Am match came in 2000 at his Oakridge Country Club home course and again there was a great deal of publicity surrounding the tournament. Boyd was upset in the first round by Steve Day and younger brother Daniel, who had just graduated from Davis High, stole the show. He beat another Oakridge junior player Stu Gold, Luke Swilor, BYU’s Manuel Merizalde, Scott Fairbanks, and then upset BYU’s Billy Harvey by a flabbergasting margin of 6 and 5 to win the championship.

The next year, 2001, was even more emotionally traumatic when Daniel and Boyd ‘had to’ play each other in the quarterfinals at Wasatch Mountain and the young Daniel hung in for a 1-up victory over his older brother.

Father Lynn didn’t like the pairing from the beginning. “It was a losing situation. I knew we weren’t going to be happy in the end because we were certain to have a disappointed son no matter which one it was,” he recalled.

The winner, Daniel, was also sad about the match, and when he won his second straight championship the next day, he accepted the trophy reluctantly and said with tears in his eyes, “I feel guilty. Boyd should be up here, not me.”

It was only the fifth match between brothers in the history of the tournament and there have been no other matches between brothers since.

At this point it looked like Daniel could possibly equal or surpass the seemingly unbeatable record of six State Am champions by Bill Korns, but events conspired against it. He went on an LDS mission to Chile that took two years, and when he returned he missed his third straight State Am when he suffered an untimely foot injury playing basketball a day or two before the 2005 tournament. In 2006 he reached the finals, but lost to another aspiring player, Tony Finau, and that was Daniel’s last State Am.

He played collegiately at BYU and in the summer months played top amateur events around the nation, and became the first amateur to win on the PGA’s Nationwide Tour. He was playing in the tournament through a sponsor’s exemption. That victory opened the door for him to turn professional sooner than anticipated and he has now become a solid player on tour and has won more than a million dollars in each of the past two years. He has many more golf achievements in his future.

The Pres Summerhays State Am legacy spans from 1926 through 2006 and another generation is on its way and the Summerhays name will probably be prominent in the 2098 tournament, some 85 years from now.

Grandson Daniel is now a touring pro, grandson Boyd has established a thriving teaching business in Arizona and Utah, granddaughter Carrie is the head coach of the BYU women’s team, and grandson Joe has just been named head professional at Glen Eagle Golf Course.

Grandpa Summerhays passed away in 1996 and left a legacy of State Am participation that is unmatched in any other family in Utah State Amateur history. He witnessed most of the accomplishments, but was not here to see his grandson Daniel win back-to-back championships. His progeny has a combined State Am record of 41-25 including three Utah State Am championships, two runnerup titles, not including a UGA Women’s Match Play championship by granddaughter Carrie.

#9 Best Matches in State Am History

2000 – Quarterfinals 

Wasatch Mountain

Daniel Summerhays vs. Boyd Summerhays

After the qualifying round was over and the bracketing was determined it seemed inevitable that the Summerhays boys, Boyd and Daniel, would be playing each other in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Utah State Am at Wasatch Mountain State Park, and sure enough, as expected, they each won their first two matches and set the stage for one of those rare tournament dream matches between brothers. 

To the brothers it was more a nightmare than a dream. It was not something they were looking forward to. It was something they ‘had’ to do. They both went into the tournament cheering for each other as they had done all their lives, and now they had to play against each other.

They had played many times together, but even then it wasn’t against each other. They were always pulling for each other, and as a result they improved together and became two of Utah’s greatest junior golfers.

Lynn Summerhays, the father of Boyd and Daniel, knew something about brotherly matches in the State Am. He played his older brother Bruce in the 1966 semifinals and Bruce showed no mercy, winning 6 and 5, and then going on to win the title.

Another reason this match was so special was because of a unique situation both ahead of them and behind them. A few years earlier (1995) another great junior golfer and good friend of the Summerhays boys, Scott Hailes, had defeated Boyd Summerhays in the semifinals of the USGA National Boys Junior Championship and then, with Boyd caddying for him, Hailes went on to become the first Utahan to win the national championship. Yes, you guessed it, the winner of the Summerhays match would likely face Hailes in the semifinals. How’s that for fate?

Yes, that national semifinal match between Boyd and Scott is probably the most significant match in Utah junior golf history and the two boys played the match in North Dakota. Here was a chance for a redo on Utah soil—but it didn’t quite work out that way.

With a large gallery watching the match from start to finish, and after matching each other almost shot for shot Daniel gained a one-up lead going onto the final hole and held on for the victory.

That win by Daniel derailed the potential rematch between Boyd and Scott, but with Daniel standing in proxy for Boyd the family derived some satisfaction when Daniel squared the score with Hailes by winning the match, 2 and 1.

And like Hailes did at the national tournament, Daniel went on to win the Utah State Amateur for the second straight time, defeating Ryan Job, 6 and 5.

 

Daniel Summerhays

Champion Profile

Daniel Summerhays won his first Utah State Amateur title in 2000 at the age of 16, the youngest player to ever win the title since the famed George Von Elm did it in 1917 at the age of 15, and when Summerhays repeated as champion the next year he became the youngest back-to-back winner in the history of the tournament, winning both of them while he was still in high school at the ages of 16 and 17.

In his first victory, at his home course at Oakridge Country Club, he defeated defending champion Billy Harvey, 6 and 5. He successfully defended his title the next year at Wasatch Mountain defeating Ryan Job in the final match by the same 6 and 5 margin. The big match that year was his 1-up win over older brother Boyd in the quarterfinals.

Immediately the conjecture began that he could be the one who could eclipse the seemingly unreachable record of six Utah State Am titles by Bill Korns.

Then things began to go awry just a titch. In his 2002 attempt to win his third straight title and being in the number one pole position by virtue of being defending champion, he got waylaid by the 32nd seed miracle man, Gregg Oliphant in a 2 and 1 first round upset. Oliphant had earned the 32nd spot via a playoff in which he chipped in a shot to stay alive, and then made a birdie putt to have the honor of playing Summerhays who by that time seemed like just another obstacle for him to overcome. (Incidentally, to continue the fairy tale, Oliphant went on to win the championship by defeating his best friend, Jon Morgan, in the championship match.)

Summerhays then missed two State Ams (2003, 2004) while serving an LDS mission, and upon his return, and looking anxiously forward to the State Am, he suffered a severe ankle sprain playing basketball a few days before the tournament and had to withdraw. It was another year (2005) lost in the quest for six titles.

It wasn’t until 2006 that he got another chance at the title, and another young, rising teenage phenom by the name of Tony Finau was feeling his oats and upset Summerhays in the championship match, 3 and 2.

In 2007 things changed big time for Daniel. He won one of the nation’s most prestigious amateur events, the Sahalee Players Championship and shortly after that became the first amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event, The Children’s Hospital Invitational. With that victory professional opportunities beckoned. With the full consent, and even encouragement from Bruce Brockbank, his BYU golf coach, he gave up his senior year at BYU and turned professional.

Summerhays began playing on the Nationwide Tour full time two weeks after winning the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational. In 2007, he played in 12 events and made 10 cuts while recording a top ten finish and four top 25 finishes. He earned $46,926 and finished 113th on the money list. 2008 was Summerhays first full year on the Nationwide Tour. He made 16 of 28 cuts while recording four top tens and 10 top 25s. His best performances came at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open where he finished in a tie for second. He earned $177,845 and finished 35th on the money list. Summerhays struggled in 2009, making only 12 of 26 cuts while recording two top 10 finishes. He earned $70,540 and finished 81st on the money list. Summerhays had a breakthrough year in 2010, recording seven top-10 finishes including three runner-up finishes while earning $391,742 en route to a fifth place finish on the money list, good enough for a PGA Tour card for 2011.

Summerhays struggled during his rookie year on the PGA Tour, making only eight cuts in 29 events. He finished 171st on the money list and had to go through qualifying school to earn his card for 2012. In February 2012 he finished in a tie for fifth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and two weeks later finished in a tie for seventh at the Puerto Rico Open. Also in 2012 he finished in a tie for fourth at the Memorial.

In July of 2013 he lost a sudden-death playoff to Woody Austin at the Sanderson Farms Championship and upped his PGA Tour earnings for the 2013 season above the $1 million mark.

Daniel and Boyd are the sons of Lynn Summerhays and the nephews of Bruce Summerhays who won the Utah State Am in 1966. Ironically enroute to his 2001 State Am championship Daniel had to beat his older brother Boyd in the quarterfinals, and when Bruce won the State Am in 1966 he had to beat his older brother Lynn in the semifinals. 

It should also be noted that Lynn Summerhays was the primary volunteer driving force behind the development of the Utah Junior Golf Association that has produced such a wonderful stock of good players in the state. Bruce’s daughter, Carrie Roberts, played on the LPGA Tour and is now the women’s golf coach at BYU. Bruce has been inducted into the Utah Golf Hall of Fame and Lynn has been a recipient of the UGA Gold Club Award, the two highest honors in Utah golf.

2001

Daniel Summerhays Becomes Youngest

Two Time Utah State Am Champion in History

Daniel Summerhays became the first 17-year-old to be a two time champion of the Utah State Amateur when he defeated Ryan Job, 6 and 5, in the championship match at Wasatch Mountain. 

Last year, as a 16-year-old, he became the youngest champion since George Von Elm won it way, way back in 1917. Von Elm did not attempt to defend his title in 1918 and he did not win his second title until 1920 when he was 18.

Summerhays also became the first back-to-back winner of the title since Doug Bybee did it ten years ago, in 1990 and 1991.

The trip to his second title over Ryan Job was more traumatic and more memorable and even more significant than his win over Harvey, which was mainly accomplished in a daze of disbelief.

The Tribune described last year and this year this way, “the boy, affectionately called ‘Biscuit’ by his siblings, upset Billy Harvey, the defending champion, in the final after getting past four not-as-accomplished guys in the preliminaries. This year he went through a veritable Murderer’s Row to get there. He knocked off 1995 champion Jason Wight and the U of U’s Luke Swilor on Friday, then beat his brother Boyd and Scott Hailes on Saturday, before defeating Job, a three-time semifinalist.”

Saturday’s matches will be emblazoned on the minds of the Summerhays family for years to come. The morning match featured Boyd vs. Daniel with the entire gallery cheering for both of them, but eventually after a wonderfully played match, the brother with the Biblical name won, 1-up. 

It was reminiscent of years earlier, in 1966,  when Lynn Summerhays, the father of Boyd and Daniel, lost to his younger brother Bruce in the semifinals, 6 and 5, and Bruce went on to win the championship and became a big time player on the PGA Champions Tour.

After getting past the brother he idolized he then had to face Scott Hailes, a close friend of Boyd’s, and this was another emotional roller coaster, made more difficult because it was the match Boyd wanted to play. Hailes had defeated Boyd in the quarterfinals of the USGA National Junior Golf Championship and went on to win the championship with Boyd as his caddy. So this was also not just another match. It could have been a rematch of that huge national match that Boyd lost to Hailes, and it was in a way, only Daniel was standing proxy for Boyd. 

Daniel eventually won the match, 2 and 1, balanced the scales with Hailes, and survived one of the most emotional days of his life. If a boy can become a man, and gain maturity and confidence while keeping humble and grateful in just one day, that was the day for Danny. When he faced Ryan Job in the finals he was no longer a 17-year-old boy, he was a man who had gone through the refiner’s fire.

In becoming the first State Am champion to successfully defend his title in ten years Daniel Summerhays only played the 18th hole twice. Once when he defeated his older brother in the quarterfinals, 1-up, and when he had to play the 18th hole as part of a 36-hole championship match with Ryan Job which he won by a 6 and 5 margin, the same margin of his victory the previous year against Billy Harvey. 

2000

16-Year-Old Daniel Summerhays 

Wins State Am ‘Story Fest’

The Utah State Am always consists of interesting stories and vignettes, but the 2000 Utah State Amateur, the second of its Second Century, was a ‘story fest,’ a veritable banquet of interesting tidbits, and the story of 16-year-old Daniel Summerhays was the dessert with a cherry on top.

Summerhays, a member of the Davis High golf team, whipped up on Billy Harvey, defending State Am champion and a member of the BYU golf team, 6 and 5, at Oakridge Country Club.

He is the youngest player to win the title since 15-year-old George ‘Gix’ Von Elm did it in 1917. 

‘Gix’ was and remains to this day Utah’s greatest claim to fame in golf history, and Daniel Summerhays is chasing down the same road.

The first round pairings of match play got the tournament off to a whopping good start on stories. In a pairings fluke the two youngest players in the tournament were paired against each other, and both were from Oakridge Country Club. The pairing was Daniel Summerhays, 16, and Stuart Gold, just 14. Summerhays won, 5 and 3.

Boyd Summerhays, the older brother of Daniel, and much more the favorite to win the event, was upset by young Steve Day, 5 and 3, in that first round and thus in a strange reversal of roles as the tournament progressed Boyd watched and cheered for Danny while Danny was feeling guilty about being where Boyd should be.

In another rare first round pairing Steve Brinton, who lost to Darrin Overson in the finals of the Centennial State Am just one year previous, got the rare and fortunate opportunity for a rematch and it was a thriller with Brinton easing the pain of that 1999 loss with a victory on the 19th hole.

He graciously said, “It isn’t the same. That was a different situation and he’s still got the trophy.”

Also in the first round Billy Harvey defeated fellow Cougar Jake Ellison, Clay Ogden downed Kirk Bowler, USGA National Junior Champion Scott Hailes defeated Jason Rodgers, Sam Williams ousted former champion Steve Borget, former two-time champion Mitch Hyer defeated future champion Tommy Sharp, and BYU’s Manuel Merizalde bumped medalist Chris Moody.

Not knowing it at the time, but looking back and looking forward, it was one of the strongest fields of 32 ever assembled in the tournament’s history, and of course, if the first round is strong so will all the proceeding rounds.

Going into the tournament there was already public discussion about whether Davis (three straight state championships) had a better golf team than BYU, and of course, the Summerhays victory kept that discussion alive. In the quarterfinals Harvey defeated Davis High star Clay Ogden and Summerhays vanquished BYU’s, Merizalde.