Family man Summerhays leads at John Deere
SILVIS, Ill. – Before Daniel Summerhays heads to the course each day, his boys tell him, “Make lots of birdies!” Saturday’s report back to the family: 10 birdies for a 9-under 62 and the lead at the John Deere Classic. High-fives and hugs all around for this family of five.
“They’re everything to me,” Summerhays said. “It doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow; Jack and Patton and William are still going to love me. They’re going to run to me and give me a big hug.”
For only the second time in his career, Summerhays heads into Sunday the leader of a PGA Tour event. He holds a two-stroke advantage over David Hearn (64) and a three-stroke lead over 2012 champion Zach Johnson (67). While Summerhays and Hearn will seek their first PGA Tour victory, Johnson will vie for his 10th.
“I hope they're intimidated, but I doubt that's going to be the case,” Johnson said. “I’m not a very intimidating figure.”
For a while, the John Deere had a reputation of being a first-time winner’s paradise. From 2000 to '06, five of the six winners at the Deere were first-timers.
“It seems like a good launching pad for a lot of players,” said Summerhays, whose career-best finish was a T-4 at the Memorial last year.
Summerhays, who turns 30 later this year, resides in Farmington, Utah, with wife Emily and their three sons (ages 5, 3 and 1). Five years ago, the Summerhayses decided to buy a Monaco Dynasty motor home to cart around their growing family. Daniel was the pilot, and one year they were in their home-on-wheels for seven months straight.
“I haven’t missed a beat of our boys’ life,” Daniel said.
The Summerhays family traveled by motor home up until San Antonio in early April. With oldest son Jack starting school in August, they’ve decided to sell their gas guzzler. The Dynasty has 77,000 miles and a tank that holds 125 gallons.
The last several months the family has flown the country, staying in hotels and spending more money. They use a Tour service that allows them to pack two huge plastic bins full of balls and toys and craft supplies that are carted from stop to stop. Summerhays gives credit to Emily for being able to adapt so well on the road – new grocery store, new park, new car every week.
“Right now the thrill of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old in an airplane and in a hotel is unmatched,” Summerhays said with a laugh. “I mean, you should hear it. It’s pretty hysterical on the airplane when we take off. It’s a lot of excitement.”
Golf is at the heart of the Summerhays family. Daniel’s older brother Boyd is a former Tour player, and uncle Bruce played on the Champions Tour. Daniel's cousin Carrie Roberts once played on the LPGA and is the head coach at BYU.
In 2007, Summerhays became the first amateur in Web.com history to win a tournament, claiming the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Summerhays turned professional three days later and skipped his senior season at BYU.
Summerhays hasn’t won a tournament since ’07 but has learned in recent years what it takes for him to relax inside the ropes. While most players try to stay within themselves during a round, staring into a crowd without really seeing anybody, Summerhays likes to look people in the eyes and give a thumbs up. It's not unusual to see him give a smile, a high-five or an offer to hit the next shot (especially when it's a tough one).
"That calms me down, and I think there's something to that in life; I really do," Summerhays said. "Get outside yourself and you'll find more confidence, more peace, more tranquility."
A wonderful example of this came Friday on the back nine at TPC Deere Run. Summerhays held the hand of his eldest son as he walked to the 14th tee.
"Hey, dad," Jack said, "don't hit it out of bounds today over there."
Summerhays couldn't help but chuckle. Jack had walked the back nine with his father the day before and saw him hit a wayward drive (not OB, but certainly not in position).
Imagine what the kids will say on Sunday if dad wins.