Preston Summerhays, 18, gets hot early at Barbasol Championship, his second PGA Tour start

·2 min read

Preston Summerhays’ first PGA Tour start came in a major when he was 18 years old. Last fall at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, Summerhays reaped the benefits of his first U.S. Golf Association championship. He gained entry into the 2020 U.S. Open when he won the 2019 U.S. Junior, but missed the cut at Winged Foot.

Last summer, the opportunity to defend that junior title slipped away when the championship was one of 10 USGA championships canceled because of COVID-19. By the time the U.S. Junior returns next week at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Summerhays will be too old to defend. He turns 19 on July 22, which is two days ahead of the deadline and thus makes him ineligible.

This week’s start at the Barbasol Championship seems like a nice consolation. Summerhays played his way into this event by winning the inaugural Barbasol Junior Championship last month. He was 11 under after 36 holes at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and a had a six-shot lead when the final round was canceled because of heavy rain. He was declared the winner.

On Thursday at Keene Trace, Summerhays came out of the gate with an even-par 72. He was 3 under after three birdies on the front nine, but a double-bogey at No. 11 and a closing bogey at No. 18 set him back.

“I played decent today,” Summerhays said. “I got off to a really good start, 3 under through nine. Then hit a couple bad shots on the back side, but I feel really good about my game. Like you said, it was my second start, so I’ve been able to take some experience from the past Open and put it into this event and it’s been really fun so far.”

Summerhays is watching closely this week at how Tour players score and how they handle themselves – not that he doesn’t have an inside track on that kind of thing anyway. The Summerhays family is deep in golf, from Preston dad’s Boyd (also his caddie this week), who is a well-known instructor and former PGA Tour player, to his great uncle Bruce, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions.

As for how Preston plans to improve for the next round?

“I’ll probably just need to work on my wedges,” he said. “I probably could have hit it a little closer today. I hit a lot of great putts that just didn’t fall, but I feel pretty good overall, just need to make sure I keep hitting fairways, hit it close and make some putts.”

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