The 123rd U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course already had a bit of a Utah flair this year, with adopted son Johnny Miller on hand to receive the 2023 Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor.

It is the 50th anniversary of Miller’s U.S. Open victory at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, when the former BYU golfer shot a final-round 63 to win.

“It is a good course for both Tony and Preston. They are both high ball speed players and there are some (tee shots) where you can widen the fairways if you can carry it 300 (yards) off the tee. If you can fly it 300 that makes it significantly easier.” — Swing coach Boyd Summerhays

Will native Utahns Tony Finau and Preston Summerhays, an amateur, add a little more Beehive State flavor to the national championship?

Answers will begin unfolding Thursday, as the six-time PGA Tour winner and the two-time Utah State Amateur champion chase the silver trophy not far from the bright lights of Hollywood.

Finau goes off the No. 10 tee at 2:43 p.m. MDT Thursday with playing partners Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay.

Summerhays, son of Finau’s swing coach, Boyd Summerhays, tees off from the No. 10 tee Thursday with Scott Stallings and Lucas Herbert.

Boyd Summerhays told the Deseret News Tuesday that his son and Finau are both playing extremely well right now and have a chance to contend on the par-70, 7,423-yard layout.

“It is a good course for both Tony and Preston,” Boyd said. “They are both high ball speed players and there are some (tee shots) where you can widen the fairways if you can carry it 300 (yards) off the tee. If you can fly it 300 that makes it significantly easier.”

Tuesday, Preston Summerhays and Finau joined Jon Rahm, currently No. 2 in the official World Golf Rankings, and Spanish professional Pablo Larrazabal for a nine-hole afternoon practice round. It was Preston’s first look at the course; Finau and Boyd were able to check it out two months ago when they were in Los Angeles for a different event.

“It is just a hard golf course. It is not overly tricky. You are just going to have to hit the shots. So Preston and Tony already feel pretty clear on most likely what is the game plan,” Boyd said. “They haven’t hosted a PGA Tour event here, or a major here, that anyone in this field would have played. So it will be a little bit of a learning curve. But these guys are pretty good at getting to know places quickly, and it is more about hitting the shots during the U.S. Open that you need to hit to be successful.

“You have gotta hit fairways and greens, and that is the same in every U.S. Open,” Boyd concluded.

Boyd has caddied for his son in the past, but won’t be on Preston’s bag this week and may not take on that role again as the rising junior at Arizona State continues to develop his game. The plan is for Preston to remain an amateur and return to ASU in the fall for his third season in the program that recently reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I men’s golf championships.

“The PGA Tour has continued to give better opportunities to college players, so the longer he stays in school the better opportunities, we feel,” Boyd said.

Preston Summerhays hits out of a bunker
Preston Summerhays, shown here at the 2020 Utah Open, is headed to his second U.S. Open. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Last week, with his dad on his bag, Preston Summerhays survived a three-way playoff for the last two spots in the U.S. Open field, along with seasoned pro Charley Hoffman. Josh Anderson of Murrieta, California, was eliminated.

Preston Summerhays shot a course-record 62 in his afternoon round at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, making an eagle on the final hole, to get into the playoff.

“Obviously, that was a cool moment,” Boyd said. “You know, 62s always matter in golf, but honestly he would have had a bad taste in his mouth even after shooting 62 if he (loses) the playoff, so there is no doubt, he was very focused and amped up, for sure.”

This won’t be Preston Summerhays’ first U.S. Open. The rising junior at ASU, a PING First-Team All-American, won the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

He shot 72-77 (9-over) and missed the cut, which came at 6-over.

Last weekend, Preston Summerhays helped Team USA win the 2023 Palmer Cup, outpointing the International side 32-28 at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Pennsylvania.

This summer promises to be a memorable one for the entire Boyd Summerhays family, as daughter Grace Summerhays — also an ASU golfer — qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, which is at Pebble Beach Golf Links July 6-9.

Finau, a Salt Lake City native, will be playing in his 29th major golf tournament, and eighth U.S. Open.

The father of five who has a home in Lehi and spends winters in Scottsdale, Arizona, near the Summerhays’ home, has missed the cut in his last two U.S. Open appearances. 

He shot 73-72 last year at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, and 74-76 in the 2021 tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) in the San Diego area.

Finau’s best U.S. Open showing came in 2020 at Winged Foot, when he finished at 6-over and tied for eighth.

In his two majors to date this season, Finau tied for 26th at the Masters and tied for 72nd at the PGA Championship.

Still, the long-hitter is considered among the top 20 or so favorites this weekend, because his game fits the course in Los Angeles which is hosting its first major championship.

The L.A. Country Club ranks No. 16 on Golf Digest’s list of America’s top 100 golf courses in 2023. A list of past members of the club in Beverly Hills include President Richard Nixon and entertainers Bing Crosby, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, James Stewart and Fred Astaire.

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Will the Utahns put on a show?

Finau will be well-rested, having taken the last two weeks off.

“Yeah, Tony’s game is good right now,” Boyd said. “And when it comes to majors, it is honestly about comfort level and just hanging around and avoiding big numbers, and he’s tended to thrive in the bigger events. He’s ready to go. He’s excited and rested, looks good.”

After finishing in a tie for 72nd at the PGA Championship on May 21, Finau played in the Charles Schwab Challenge the following week and missed the cut, shooting 2-over 142.

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He bypassed the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, and the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Preston Summerhays is one of 19 amateurs in the field.

Five past/current members of the BYU men’s golf team advanced from local qualifying, but none were able to get past the 36-hole qualifying, like Summerhays did.

Former or current Cougars who came up just short included Rhett Rasmussen, Brock Goyen, Zac Jones, Tyson Shelley and Keanu Akina.

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