Farmington • Suddenly, all those questions about what hometown golfer Daniel Summerhays would do if he won the Utah Championship in his last scheduled appearance as a touring pro seemed a lot less silly.
It almost happened, shockingly enough. Skipping to the end, bogeying his last hole of Sunday’s final round and the first hole of a playoff kept Summerhays from producing an improbable victory, after he made eight birdies and an eagle in posting a 62.
After walking back to the clubhouse in the rain from the No. 10 green — he knows it as No. 1, as a lifelong Oakridge member — Summerhays labeled the experience “still, super amazing.”
Kyle Jones was even happier, having won the playoff over Paul Haley with a birdie on the second hole (No. 18), earning $117,000 after shooting 20 under par for four days of the Korn Ferry Tour event.
Jones and Haley, playing together in the last twosome, did enough to overcome their mistakes and catch Summerhays, who had started the day six strokes behind the co-leaders in a tie for 28th place, while teeing off 2½ hours ahead of them.
Burly and bearded, the 5-foot-8 Jones hardly resembles the standard-issue pro golfer, making him a memorable winner of the Utah Championship. Haley would have become a good story, if he had won on this tour for the first time since 2012, with multiple years of mini-tour struggles in between. And then there’s Summerhays, who came closer than any Utahn to winning a PGA Tour-sanctioned event in the state since Bob Betley lost in an epic eight-hole playoff in a 1992 senior tournament at Jeremy Ranch.
The worsening weather almost helped Summerhays’ score hold up, as he watched Jones and Haley fight to shoot 68s during the Golf Channel telecast in the clubhouse lounge. “Hats off to them; they absolutely battled,” Summerhays said.
Such effort became necessary after they wobbled on the back nine. “It just goes back to grinding it out,” Jones said. “You don’t have to have your best game.”
That’s exactly what Summerhays needed, though, just to make Sunday more interesting. While a 61 would have been even better, he saved the best final round of his professional career for his 14th season — and gave himself more chances to play. Summerhays earned a spot in this week’s tour stop in Colorado via a top-25 finish; he plans to work the trip into a family vacation And now that he’s No. 31 in the standings of the extended 2020-21 schedule (altered due to COVID-19), he’ll have access to more events in the next 14 months via a performance-based reordering.
So all those tributes to him in his planned retirement at age 36 were partly premature, but he’s not disregarding the Davis High School students he’ll be coaching and teaching. “Part of my problem may be that I love so many different things other than just golf,” he said.
He had fun Sunday, that’s for sure. Having made six birdies, Summerhays smiled as he walked across the bridge on the par-5 No. 15. “One last, little bit of noise,” he told someone.
He eagled that hole after hitting a 4-iron from 240 yards to within 10 feet. Summerhays waved to his wife, Emily, who had maneuvered the family minivan to the eastern edge of the course and watched through the fence with their four children. She then drove to another spot and saw him birdie No. 16, followed by another birdie on No. 17.
This was getting good. But Summerhays drove into the deep rough just left of the No. 18 fairway, leading to a bogey. All three playoff contestants drove poorly on No. 10 and faced tough putts for par. Summerhays liked getting to go first from 15 feet, figuring he could apply pressure to the others. “My eyes got really big,” he said. “I thought I’d done it.”
His ball stayed on the edge of the hole, though. Jones and Haley made their putts, extending the playoff. Summerhays’ dream was over – but not his pro golf career, just yet.
• Kyle Jones birdies the second playoff hole Sunday to win the Utah Championship over Paul Haley II. Oakridge Country Club member Daniel Summerhays is eliminated with a bogey on the first playoff hole after shooting a final-round 62.
• Ogden native Patrick Fishburn, a Korn Ferry Tour rookie, posts a 70 and ties for 36th place, falling slightly to No. 50 in the 2020-21 season standings.
• Sandy resident Mike Weir, preparing for his PGA Tour Champions debut in late July, ties for 67th place with a closing 71.