UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Daniel Summerhays is making his second appearance at the U.S. Open this week with hopes this will be a more successful experience than in 2010 when shot 79-77 and missed the cut by seven strokes at Pebble Beach in California.
In that Open appearance, Summerhays admits being intimidated by a course he’d never played and it wasn’t until a couple of more rounds at Pebble Beach that he realized the course wasn’t as tough as he first thought.
He’s using that lesson this week and trying to be positive about playing Chambers Bay Golf Course, a course he had never seen until he walked around it Sunday evening and played for the first time on Monday.
If nothing else, Summerhays is exuding confidence as he prepares for one of the biggest tournaments of his life.
“If I play well, I feel I can play with the best in the world,’’ he said. “If the putter gets hot, anything can happen. I need to make some putts for sure. I don’t hit it as far as some of these guys out here on Tour, but on this golf course, it may not matter.’’
Summerhays says he’s “curious” about how the tournament will play out with few players having much experience playing the course that was built only eight years ago and has never hosted a professional event.
“I think if I do have a chance, this is a great one because no one really knows much about the golf course,’’ he said. “I think we’re all going in on an even playing field and it just may be goofy enough where my game may be perfect.’’
Unlike 2010 when he was still playing on the Nationwide Tour, Summerhays hasn’t been given one of the poor tee times often designated for non-stars, what he calls “bringing in the flags” as one of the last groups off the course or one of the “super early” tee times.
Summerhays is right in the middle of the waves on Thursday afternoon (3:06 p.m. MT) and Friday morning (9:06 a.m. MT), playing in the group right in front of Masters champion Jordan Spieth and two in front of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods. Which won’t be any easy task.
“I’m right in front (of those two groups) and that’s sometimes worse because you get the crowd that starts to congregate to watch them come through,’’ he said. “I texted my caddie and said we’re right in front of the circus and he said it may not even matter because there’s so many people out there. I do feel good about my tee time because it’s right in the middle of the wave. I do like that.’’
Summerhays says putting is the best part of his game right now, but he plans on using his creativity this week to shoot lower scores.
“It’s usually my putting that’s been fabulous, but I think I’m really good at creating different shots whether I need to hook one or cut one in there,’’ he said. “So I’m looking forward to using my creativity here this week.’’
Summerhays did better in his second major last year at the PGA Championship at Valhalla in Kentucky where he finished in a tie for 33rd place at 4-under-par 280.
Although he’s made gradual improvement in his five years on the PGA Tour, going from earning just over $300,000 his first year to $1.5 million last year, Summerhays is ready for a breakthrough that could propel his career to greater heights.
Even if he doesn’t win this week, Summerhays can receive exemptions to other major tournaments with a high finish.
“I’m really looking forward to it as far as if you finish in the top six or eight you get into all the major championships the next year,’’ he said. “As far as opportunities go, this is a huge opportunity.’’