Left to right: Utah Athletic Commission CEO Jeff Robbins, Korn Ferry Tour golfer Peter Kuest, Fremont High and BYU alum Patrick Fishburn, Lone Peak graduate and BYU senior Carson Lundell, and Daniel Summerhays, a graduate of Davis High and BYU, with Hal, the Utah championship head umpire. Chief Referee Geyer during a news conference for the Korn Ferry Tour Utah Championship, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington, Utah. (Sean Walker, KSL.com)
Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes
FARMINGTON — Between the play of tour regular Patrick Fishburn, who regularly stops at his native championship in Utah, and the return to professional golf of Daniel Summerhays and Zac Blair, the ground of the annual stop of the Korn Ferry Tour in the Beehive State already had a decidedly pro-BYU golf flair.
After Tuesday’s exemptions announcement, the field might as well be painted blue.
The Utah Championship announced its four sponsor exemptions for this year’s event, which will be held Aug. 4-7 at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington.
With Summerhays, the 38-year-old former BYU star who briefly joined the coaching ranks at his alma mater Davis High and last season as a volunteer assistant with the Cougars, exemptions include Peter Kuest, the former BYU of Fresno, Calif., who made five cuts in 10 events on the Korn Ferry Tour; and Carson Lundell, the rising BYU fifth-year senior from Lone Peak who will be making his professional tournament debut (as an amateur) to end the summer in Oakridge.
“I’m so grateful for the consideration and the opportunity to play this tournament in Utah, where I’m from while I still have a year left at BYU,” Lundell said Tuesday at a press conference. pre-tournament in Oakridge. “I am so grateful to Tony (Finau, three-time PGA Tour winner), to Jeff (Robbins of the Utah Athletic Commission), and for their support of the Utah players, for their ambition to grow the game here.”
Lundell just wrapped up his junior season where he earned honorable mention All-America selection, earned medalist honors at NCAA Stockton Area and helped the Cougars qualify for the 2022 NCAA Championships. in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The 24-year-old from Alpine was considering turning professional after last season, when he finished 24th in the PGA Tour University Rankings – a ranking where the top 15 eligible players earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour or one of the tours PGA International.
Instead, Lundell jumped into the amateur circuit, first at the Sunnehanna Amateur followed by the Northeast Amateur Invitational in June. He then played in the 118th Trans-Miss Amateur and a US Amateur qualifier in July, and was preparing for the Western Amateur when he received a text and call from an unknown number while training in the Cougars facility at Fox Hollow Golf. Club.
It was Finau, the Rose Park native who is soaring on the PGA Tour, calling just before his first round at the 3M Open to tell Lundell he had an unrestricted bye in the Utah Championship for him.
“The Western is perhaps the most elite amateur tournament in the world; only the top 250 even have a chance to make it to this tournament,” said Lundell, who will follow the Utah Championship with the US Amateur. “Going into my senior year, it will be a great opportunity to see the life I want to have after college – getting on the pro circuit, trying to do the Korn Ferry Tour and then the PGA Tour one day. It’s great cool to have a guy like Tony following me from an early age to give me this opportunity.You can’t ask for much more.
The Utah Championship also has something special for golfers who grew up in Utah or played college golf along the Wasatch Front. The only tour-sanctioned men’s event in the state enters its sixth year at Oakridge after leaving Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, and marks something of a homecoming for Kuest, who was born in Fresno but has recorded 10 wins career at BYU before turning pro and winning his first pro tournament at the Utah Open in 2020.
In a season that earned him $20,519 in prize money, Kuest’s best finish came with a T38 effort at the Live and Work in Maine Open in late June.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to show off my abilities and pursue my dreams, to play the game that I love,” said Kuest, who received the same restricted exemption as Summerhays. “I know I’m not from Utah, but every time I play with Tony he jokes that Utah golf has claimed me. And I’m so grateful for that.”
The other unrestricted bye went to Patrick Flavin, a 26-year-old rising star from Chicago who turned pro in 2018 and had two top 10 finishes in the 2020-21 season.
As for Summerhays, the father of four who retired from playing, coached at his alma mater Davis High for two semesters, then returned to play professionally at the Utah Championship.
After a season as a volunteer assistant at BYU, Summerhays is back to try and give touring golf another shot. Now healthy and fully recovered from ankle surgery that required two screws in his foot, he’s ready to give golf one last shot, balancing Q-school with events like the Utah Championship to see what’s left in the tank.
Eventually the game can overtake him and he can settle for a position as a varsity coach and caddy for his son Jack and the rest of his children at various junior golf events. But Summerhays believes he can crack the top 25 at Farmington and will try to make the most of his professional career.
“I think I’m a more aggressive player,” said Summerhays, who has 19 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and finished second in the Utah Championship Playoffs two years ago. “I talk a lot to the guys at BYU about having a scarcity mindset versus an abundance mindset; are you trying to keep everything you have because you don’t want to lose it, or will you just go get it.
“I really see this as an eye opener and a call to change the way I do everything.”