MIDWAY — The Summerhays family golf legacy added another chapter this week with 16-year-old Grace Summerhays winning the Utah Women’s State Amateur tournament at Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Summerhays, who just turned 16 last week, defeated four-time champion Kelsey Chugg 3 and 1 in the finals Thursday after winning three matches over the previous 32 hours.
In winning, Summerhays became the youngest winner in the 114-year history of the event, joining the accomplishment of her brother Preston Summerhays, who two years ago became the youngest golfer to win the Utah Men’s Amateur. In the process she avenged last year’s loss in the finals, by defeating last year’s winner Kerstin Fotu in the semifinals before beating Chugg in the finals.
“I’m excited about where my game is headed.” — Grace Summerhays
She talked about both of her motivations to win this year’s tournament.
“It was definitely motivation, to be so close and not quite get it last year,” she said. “That was a pretty big motivation knowing there’s a lot of good players here.”
And the other:
“Before the start of the week, my dad (Boyd) said it was my last chance to win as the youngest, so that was motivation to win as much as anything,” she said.
The Summerhays family lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, but comes up to Utah every summer to be with extended family and escape the brutal summer heat in Arizona.
Grace came close to winning last year at Logan Country Club but trailed the entire match against Fotu and lost on the final hole.
She came into this year’s tournament with a little more length in her game and an improved short game, particularly her putting.
Summerhays held off Fotu in the morning even after the BYU sophomore drained three putts of more than 30 feet on the final five holes to push the match to the 18th hole.
Against Chugg, she tied the match after four holes and took a 2-up lead after eight holes and still held the same lead after 12 holes. But Chugg won holes 13 and 14 when Summerhays missed par putts from 5 and 8 feet, respectively.
With the match even, Chugg had momentum on her side and at the par-4 15th hole, after missing the green short, she chipped within 2 feet.
It almost looked like a gimme, but such putts aren’t given in a tense finals match and sure enough, Chugg pulled her putt slightly and it lipped around the cup as she stared in disbelief.
“I don’t know what happened with that little putt,” she lamented later. “That’s golf, right?”
At both 16 and 17, Chugg hit over the green on her approach shots, only to make great recovery shots. However, she couldn’t sink the putts and Summerhays closed out the match with a pair of pars.
“Not my best final round. I don’t know if it was fatigue or what,” said the 29-year-old Chugg, who defeated 2018 champ Tess Blair 1 up in the morning. “The putter was the big thing. I had no confidence. I putted really well this morning but just couldn’t get it going this afternoon. Grace played fantastic and did what she had to do.”
Summerhays says she plans to be back next year to defend her title. She and Chugg will both play in next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur in Rockville, Maryland, Aug. 3-9.
“I’m excited about where my game is headed,” Summerhays said.