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Daniel ‘Warms Up’ for Shriners Hospital Open in Las Vegas

Story by Brady Bingham

 

LAS VEGAS — Former BYU star and current PGA professional Daniel Summerhays enjoyed playing with the Dream Team Wednesday.

In preparation for this week’s event on the PGA Tour, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Summerhays participated in the midweek pro-am, where he was paired with three current or former patients who are active in the game of golf.

The Shriners Dream Team was Jalen Castle, 13, of South Carolina, a scoliosis patient; Anton Glass, a 19-year-old Floridian who was born without a tibia; and, Luke Grossnicklaus, 20, a member of the University of Nebraska Kearny golf team who suffers from a disease that forced him to amputate his leg before he reached high school. The PGA event flew the three to Vegas and paired them with Summerhays.

“It’s really neat to see all the good that Shriners does, with the prosthetics and the surgeries. To make it where these kids can really live their dreams, it’s fantastic,” said Summerhays, commenting on how well his three partners played. “They did a fantastic job. I was really pleased with the way they hit it, in several areas.

“The young girl, Jalen, can really chip and putt, and all three of them hit it a long way,” Summerhays added.

As a team, the foursome finished well back on the scoreboard. But no one really cared.

“I think we all really enjoyed it,” Glass said. “It’s always a great opportunity to represent a great organization such as Shriners. It was probably a tough day as far as the golf goes, but you can’t be perfect, everyone knows that.”

“It was a little nerve-racking,” Grossnicklaus said. “You kind of get that feeling in your gut, playing on a PGA course with a PGA pro. “Once I got into it I think it felt pretty good.

“Danny was pretty laid back out there, which is great,” Grossnicklaus added.

“This is a great event,” Grossnicklaus’ father Kelly said. “Shiners picks what they call a dream team and invites them out. We are from Nebraska, so this is great fun for us.”

Perhaps too young to know, Castle held her own against the big-hitting guys. She said she wasn’t intimidated at all. “No sir,” she said when asked if she felt a bit nervous playing with a professional.

“It was really fun. I’ve never had that much fun playing with a pro,” Castle said. “Danny was really fun. He was always cheerful. He never had bad etiquette. It was just really fun.”

Summerhays, who comes from a golfing-rich family that includes his brother Boyd, a former PGA Tour player and a current PGA instructor, and uncle Bruce, a former Champions Tour star, was joined four holes into his round by his father Lynn, who flew in for the tournament.

The tournament begins Thursday. Summerhays tees off at 7:14 a.m. Tony Finau goes off at 8:20 a.m., while Zac Blair starts at 12:56 p.m.

Here are the biographies of the three players on the Dream Team, provided by the PGA Tour: 

Jalen Castle, 13

Ever since learning to play golf when she was 2, Jalen Castle has made the game her passion. Joining her high school varsity golf team as a seventh grader, Castle was a member of the 2014-15 South Carolina High School All-State Girls Golf team. When she was diagnosed with scoliosis in June 2014, her family immediately began searching for an alternative to a spinal fusion. They soon came across the anterior vertebral body tethering procedure performed at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia. Castle had the procedure done in April 2015 and was back swinging a golf club a mere six weeks later.

Anton Glass, 19

Born without the tibia bone in his left leg, Anton Glass had his leg amputated when he was five and was walking tall in his first prosthesis just a few days later. As he grew, Glass began visiting the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa nearly every year to be fitted for a new prosthetic leg. Thanks to the Shriners staff, he has never held back from competing in high school golf tournaments or living a golfer’s life.

Luke Grossnicklaus, 20

Developing a strong passion for the sport at a young age, Luke Grossnicklaus was diagnosed with schleroderma, a disorder that causes the body to attack healthy tissue. The disease settled in Grossnicklaus’ right leg, which prompted his decision to have his leg amputated at Shriners Hospitals for Children in the Twin Cities before he had even reached the eighth grade. Since the amputation, Grossnicklaus has won three high school state medals for golf and now plays at the University of Nebraska Kearny, walking 36 holes or up to 10 miles per tournament.