How Daniel Summerhays made it out of the first round at venerable Valhalla was a miracle. The Utah native opened the PGA Championship with two bogeys, beginning the tournament at two-over. On the third hole though, Summerhays showed he wasn't going anywhere but up the leaderboard, shooting for birdie on the par-three No. 3.
He'd shoot two more bogeys on his first front nine. And then, he'd birdie three on the back nine to stay in contention. Day two was more of the same on an evil Valhalla course in Louisville, Kentucky wracked by high winds and blowing rain. Summerhays would struggle on his first two holes--but then he'd play great golf down the rest of the front nine and well into the back nine.
If not for a double bogey on No. 14 and a bogey on No. 16 in the second round, Summerhays would have played his way into the big money at the $1.8 million tournament. In any case, he made the cut--and that's where he'd make his move.
The third round was nothing like the first two rounds for Summerhays. He finally figured out the first two stupid par-4 holes at Valhalla--despite insane crosswinds that made life difficult for everyone. He'd birdie No. 3 again for the second time at this God-forsaken course and play steady over the front nine. In fact, had he not bogeyed on No. 12--the first and only time he had trouble on that par-4 hole--his third round score might have been better than the 68 he shot.
That 68 though, gave Summerhays hope of breaking into the top 20 on Sun. Aug. 10. Rain slammed the course yet again, disrupting play. But, Summerhays played through the rain and sloggy course at Valhalla yet again, methodically solving the puzzle that is this course--on a good day.
On a bad day like Sunday's final round, only stars like Rory McIlroy--who grew up playing in crappy conditions like these on a regular basis--can dare conquer it. McIlroy did, winning the tournament with a dazzling display on On. 17 and the biggest chunk of the prize money.
Summerhays, who played perhaps one of his better tournaments on the PGA Tour, finished in a tie for 33rd place, respectable for any golfer who has to conquer Valhalla.