MIDWAY — Because only one other tournament had been played on the new Mountain 18 at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course before this week, it was almost a sure thing that someone was going to break the competitive course record of 69 at the Men's State Amateur.
No one figured, however, a player in the first group of the day would shatter the course record by five shots with a 7-under-par 64.
That's what defending champion Daniel Summerhays did in the first round Wednesday morning. And just over an hour later, recent University of Utah golfer Shawn Edwards matched Summerhays' 64 on the Mountain course to gain a share of the first-round lead.
You could say that Edwards' Ute teammate, Ryan Ellis, is also tied for the lead, even though he shot a 65. That's because it, too, was a 7-under-par total, although it came on the par-72 Lake Course at Wasatch.
The 147-player State Am field is playing both 18-hole courses at Wasatch in the 36-hole qualifying, after which 31 players plus Summerhays will compete in match play beginning Friday. By Sunday, just two players will be left to slug it out in a 36-hole final on both the Mountain and Lake courses.
With Summerhays, Edwards and Ellis all going low early in the day, it looked like the golfers would tear up Wasatch with the lowest scores in State Am history. However, the best anyone else in the field could do the rest of the day was three-under par as 1995 champ Jason Wight, Nate Herzog, Dustin Volk and Bill Probst all shot 68 on the Mountain Course, while John Harris, Pete Stone, Tadd Cox and Bryan Summerhays, Daniel's 33-year-old cousin, shot 69 on the Lake Course.
In all, 36 golfers shot even-par or better Wednesday, meaning Thursday's cut could come at even-par 143 or a shot higher or lower.
The 17-year-old Summerhays doesn't even have to qualify for match play, getting an automatic slot in the Round of 32 as the defending champion. But he wasn't about to treat Wednesday morning's play as a practice round.
"I'm trying to go out and get ready for match play," he said. "You've got to be able to see yourself making some birdies before the real thing happens. You have to treat it like the real thing."
Summerhays, who has grown slightly to 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds since last year when he was an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter, said the 64 was his lowest round ever. He hit every par-5 in two and the highlight of his day was a 90-foot eagle putt at the 503-yard, par-5 No. 9 hole.
The 23-year-old Edwards works at Davis Park Golf Course after just completing his career on the University of Utah golf team. His 64 included nine birdies and two bogeys, at the 13th and 15th holes coming in.
"I played solid today — I'm pleased with my round," he said. "I just tried to relax and have fun."
Edwards barely made it into the State Am, shooting a 76 in a rainy qualifying at Glen Eagle. A switch of drivers recently has made a difference in his game and he also said he's putting well.
Ellis, who also finished his senior season at the U. in May, came into the tourney as the top-rated amateur in the state this year, according to player performance ratings by the Utah Golf Association. He said his 65 on the Lake Course was fairly boring as he didn't make any long putts and just played consistent by hitting every green in regulation and all but two fairways in regulation.
"I haven't made it to match play before, but I'm definitely in good position to get a decent seed," he said.
With the abundance of under-par scores, several top amateurs are in danger of missing the cut for match play. Daniel's older brother, Boyd Summerhays, who just completed his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, struggled with a 74, while three-time champion Doug Bybee finished with a 76. Former champions Darrin Overson (73), Steve Borget (74), Todd Barker (75) and Mark Davis (77) are also going to have to come up with good rounds Thursday to stay alive.