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15-Year-Old Summerhays becomes youngest Utah State Amateur Champion
By Beaux Yenchik, UGA Intern
Millcreek, UT – All that remained was 10 feet. The putt had hardly any break. The wind had died down for the most part and all that was left was to make it. Back and forth went the putter head – the typical ding noise produced having struck the ball – sending the dimpled sphere toward the cup.
Preston Summerhays, the youngest Utah State Amateur Champion in history, ecstatically pumped his fist as he watched victory flash before his eyes as he sunk the winning putt on the 33rd hole of the match. The descent sized gallery, mostly Summerhays’ supporters, erupted in applause as each witnessed the history books being changed.
“Honestly, I got over the putt and just wanted to drain it,” Summerhays said. “There was nothing else I wanted more.”
Summerhays snatched his newly found record from his uncle, Daniel Summerhays, who had won it 18 years ago and the 1917 great, George Von Elm – both having claimed the title at the ripe old age of 16. Summerhays, even furthered history by becoming the third member of the Summerhays clan to win the State Amateur at Oakridge Country Club – his uncle Daniel doing it in 2000 and his great-uncle Bruce back in 1966.
Summerhays humbly stated, “It’s an advantage [to be a Summerhays].”
Though claiming a 3 and 2 victory over University of Utah senior Kyler Dunkle, the 36-hole match was somewhat of a rollercoaster – giving glimpses into a possible collapse by the younger player.
Yet, the collapse never came from the teenager. Showing poise and a strong determination to keep fighting, Summerhays buckled down and prevented Dunkle from ever squaring the match after claiming his lead on the fourth hole of the final day – only allowing his 21-year-old opponent to get within one on six of the holes.
Dunkle looked to make a run after Summerhays drove his ball out of bounds on the drivable par-4 10th hole – their 28th hole of the day – and topping his approach shot from the fairway on the very next hole.
But, just as he had done all day, Summerhays showed a level of composure often found in more experienced individuals. Looking quickly to respond, Summerhays grinded out a needed par following the topped 3-wood.
“That’s one of the really cool things about match play, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Dunkle said. “As long as you have a chance, there is always a way to win. [Summerhays] might be one of the best young putters I’ve seen in my life. What he was able to do today over 36 holes was awesome.”
But that wasn’t all from the Summerhays prodigy, the young buck halved the 30th hole by lagging his 40-foot chip to within inches – possibly getting under the skin of Dunkle, who had missed his 15-foot putt for birdie just following Summerhays’ chip.
Adding salt to the open wound, Summerhays nearly aced the par-3 14th from 182 yards out after Dunkle plugged his tee shot next to the lip of the front-side bunker. Nailing the short putt, Summerhays walked off the green with a stride that even Dustin Johnson would be proud of.
Putting the nail in the coffin, Summerhays finished Dunkle by going birdie-par-birdie on holes 32-34.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Summerhays’ journey for the title began back at Mountain Dell’s Lake Course on May 30; he finished tied for third with a one-over-par 72.
The 15 year old began his State Amateur by shooting 71-70 in the opening two days for a score of 2 under par – finishing tied for 21st. Claiming the No. 23 seed in the 64-man bracket, his opening match was against Dane Nelson, the former Dixie State Trailblazer, whom he defeated 6 and 5. The round of 32 proved to be a test as Summerhays lasted a 19-hole match with Jacob Wagstaff. The State Amateur champ would then go on to beat Tyler Savage 6 and 4 in the round of 16 and 3 and 1 over Utah State’s Andy Hess in the quarterfinals. To finish off his side of the bracket, Summerhays beat Jayce Frampton 1 up in the semi’s.
Summerhays now has the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier, U.S. Amateur Qualifier and the Junior World Championships coming up, with the first having come Monday morning.
As a fan stated: “Kid isn’t old enough to drive anything other than a golf ball and he wins the whole shooting match. Way to go, Preston!”
For complete results of the 120th playing of the Utah State Amateur Championship, CLICK HERE.