FARMINGTON — Daniel Summerhays has been fighting back tears and emotions all week.
The Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship, held at Farmington’s Oakridge Country Club, is set to be his last professional golf tournament as he transitions into being a high school teacher and golf coach at Davis High this fall.
He’ll get at least two more days of pro golf.
Summerhays made the cut with a round of 6-under 65 on Friday, which he kickstarted with four birdies over a six-hole stretch on the front nine.
Then, Summerhays found an extra gear and made four straight birdies on holes 13-16. Summerhays sits at 8-under overall after the first two rounds, five shots behind Paul Haley II and Kyle Jones, the leaders at 13-under.
“Eight birdies is one more than I was hoping for, so that was nice. I figure if I can make six or seven birdies, I feel really good about it,” Summerhays said. “The putter came alive today, which was really nice. I drove it for the most part pretty well and I’m grateful to be playing a weekend.”
The 36-year-old Summerhays didn’t end that thought without a candid quip.
“Hopefully the body will keep going. Had to get a little stretch out on 15,” he said.
The big difference Friday, compared to Thursday’s 2-under round for Summerhays, was putting. He particularly credited two long putts he made on Nos. 4 and 5 that helped spur his good round.
Summerhays nearly made a hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 14, hitting an 8-iron that rolled just past the pin. That gave him a tap-in birdie putt in the middle of his four-birdie streak.
“A nice little Oakridge bounce there for me,” he said.
Though Summerhays said this tournament is it for his pro golf career (for now), if he finishes in the top 25 this week, he’d qualify for next week’s Korn Ferry Tour event in Berthoud, Colorado, a small city between Denver and Fort Collins.
Summerhays said the family is heading out to Missouri anyway next week to visit his wife’s family, “so we may as well stop there on the way to my in-laws’ house, so it might work out perfect.”
A few holes ahead of his group, Patrick Fishburn (Fremont High and BYU alumnus) looked like he wasn’t just going to comfortably make the cut, but maybe put himself in a position to contend for a top-10 spot.
He made five birdies on the front nine — Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9 — and was sitting at 8-under overall, five shots back of the lead, with nine holes to play.
On the par-3 No. 4, Fishburn stuck his tee shot a few feet away from the hole and made birdie. On No. 6, another par 3 that shares a fence border with Shepard Lane, Fishburn made about a 20-foot uphill putt for birdie.
Fishburn hit a monster drive on the par-5 second hole — he consistently outdrove his other two group members — and two-putted for birdie. But missing makable putts was a theme that began developing for him.
“Unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of it with the wedges, and definitely didn’t put very well that back nine, but overall really glad with the way I hit the driver and I hit irons,” Fishburn said. “I hit a lot of good quality shots off the tee, I just gotta find a way to score the ball a little better, for sure.”
He two-putted for birdie on both par 5s on the front nine, and left a couple other makable birdie putts begging. The back nine, Fishburn still drove the ball incredibly well, but missed chances again.
Fishburn started the back nine at 8-under and with plenty of reason to believe that he could at least finish 10-under to put himself in the hunt.
Instead, he carded bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, with the putter proving problematic both holes.
“Really the back nine wasn’t too much different, I just — couple bad bounces and a couple of missed putts but, overall, it was a decent day,” Fishburn said.
He’s 6-under overall and in a 24-way tie for 41st place, finishing one shot above the cut line.
“Just play the way I have been, just hit a bunch of drivers, hit it close by the greens and if I can get my wedge game going. I should have a chance to shoot a low number. I’ve shot some low numbers out here before,” Fishburn said of his mindset for this weekend.
And it was that cut line of 5-under that made for some interesting drama at the 18th green when the Summerhays group finished its round.
BYU sophomore and Davis High alumnus Cole Ponich was sitting at 4-under, needing a birdie on the 18th to make the cut in his first professional tournament.
His drive found the left rough and his path to the green was somewhat obstructed by a tree.
Ponich lifted a strong iron over the tree that bounced at the front edge of the green, but rolled off the back and set up a tricky, short pitch shot that he had to make in order to make the cut.
Ponich’s chip rolled just past the hole and he ended with a bogey, finishing 3-under overall.
Still, he was pleased with his first pro tournament, which was played on his home course (his house on the second fairway was decorated with a banner that read “Happy 20th Birthday Cole Ponich”).
“It’s just the experience out here. We don’t get to see a lot of courses set up with tucked pins every hole, long rough, firm greens, so just the pure experience of being out here and seeing how good these guys are, it was a good time,” Ponich said.