With many of the top PGA Senior golfers skipping this weekend's Franklin Quest Championship, more attention than ever has turned to a pair of Utahns who both feel they have a chance to win the $90,000 first prize.
Heber City's Bruce Summerhays has contended in several Senior events this year, earning close to a half-million dollars. He is determined to get a victory before the year is over.Meanwhile, Bear Lake pro Bob Betley has worked his way back from shoulder surgery with some strong outings and proclaims himself ready to claim his second Senior Tour victory.
Summerhays and Betley, a couple of guys who used to dominate the Utah pro circuit in the 1970 and '80s are two players to watch in the 54-hole tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday at Park Meadows Golf Club.
They'll be joined by the likes of defending champion Tom Weiskopf, 1993 champion Dave Stockton, J.C. Snead, George Archer, Jim Albus, Jay Siegel and Bob Charles. Those seven, plus Summerhays, are the only players among the top 20 money-winners entered this week.
The tournament does better down the money list, with every player ranked between 25th and 40th on the money list entered this week.
The last two times he's played in the Franklin tourney, Betley has come close to winning, losing a playoff to Orville Moody in 1992 and finishing fourth in 1993. But injuries, from which he is just now recovering fully, kept him out of last year's event.
"I'm real excited about it," said Betley. "I think I'm there. I'm shooting good scores, but I just have to put three good scores together."
Summerhays has had several top-10 finishes this year but just hasn't broken through with a victory. Lately he's been trying awfully hard to go for a win, and sometimes it has cost him a stroke or two at the end of a round.
"Tom Wargo took me aside at Atlanta this year and said, `At all costs win,' " said Summerhays. "That's what I'm trying to do. I'm on the verge."
Someone who thinks Summerhays can win this week is Betley, who said: "Bruce is one of the best players on the (Senior) Tour right now. I'm really happy for Bruce.
Here's a club pro coming out here and beating our socks off."
Summerhays, despite being 14th on the money list this year, is going out early with the unknowns, rather than in "prime time" with the name players.
He tees off in the second group of the day at 8:10 a.m. with Dick Rhyan, who ranks 55th on the money list, and Elwin Fanning, one of the four Monday qualifiers.
Betley tees off at 9:50 with Tommy Aaron and Kermit Zarley.
The name players start teeing off at 10 a.m. That's when Archer goes off, followed by Tony Jacklin in the 10:10 group. At 10:20, 1993 champ Dave Stockton, 1991 champion Dale Douglass and Al Geiberger tee off, while Weiskopf is joined by Gary Player and Charles in the 10:30 group. Snead and Albus tee off at 10:50.
The only other local player in the tournament is Park City's Lanny Nielsen, who is paired with Don Davis and Mike Still at 8:40 a.m. Ex-Utahn Billy Casper tees off at 11:30.
Golfers will be repaired according to scores for Saturday's and Sunday's rounds.