Pair of Utah golfers find success at Chambers Bay

Daniel Summerhays feels at home in Washington and so too, it seems, does fellow Utah resident Tony Finau.

The friends finished their Friday morning rounds at Chambers Bay at 3-under par for the tournament and in position for a weekend run at the U.S. Open title.

“I love this place, it’s so beautiful,” Summerhays said. “I’m from Salt Lake City, and all the pine trees and the mountains remind me of home a little bit. The golf course doesn’t remind me at all of home, but the scenery and landscape for sure does.”

Summerhays, 31, is playing in Washington for the first time since 2007, when he won the Sahalee Players Championship. Finau, 25, has a Washingtonian helping him this week. His caddie is Greg Bodine, a Tacoma native and cousin of University Place golfers Andrew and Michael Putnam.

Finau finished with a 2-under-par 68 Friday, and moments later Summerhays carded a 67. Separated by one group Friday, the golfers were able to keep tabs on each other.

When Summerhays was on the No. 8 green he watched Finau make his birdie putt on No. 9. “That was fun,” Summerhays said.

And when Summerhays birdied No. 3 to grab a brief share of the overall lead, Finau noticed. “I looked over and saw he was leading the tournament,” Finau said. “That was cool to see. He’s a great player. And I wish him the best this week.”

In 2006, Finau beat Summerhays in the Utah State Amateur Championship. A year late they both turned pro.

Summerhays made it to the PGA Tour in 2011. When Finau made it this season, Summerhays took him under his wing. Finau calls Utah golfers a big family and says he looks up to Summerhays.

“I didn’t play much golf with him, but being out here this year as a rookie I’ve leaned on him for some experience and just different golf courses and just the tour life in general,” Finau said. “So our relationship is growing. And it’s just nice to see us both play well this week so far.”

The players’ games aren’t similar. “He hits it about 50 yards farther than me,” Summerhays said. “But I try and pattern after some of the more precise players. And you can get it done in a lot of different ways.”

Summerhays seems to be emerging as a crowd favorite. He noticed fans chanting his name. “I think it’s fun for them to yell ‘Summerhays,’ kind of a fun last name, I guess, to say … and a little bit of more of an unknown name,” Summerhays said.

The galleries were rooting for Finau too, especially after he finished his round with a birdie on No. 9. “That was huge,” he said.

“(I am) really proud of Tony and all he’s accomplishing in his rookie year,” Summerhays said. “He is way ahead of the curve as far as maturity goes, and I’m really proud of him and all he’s accomplishing.”

The pairings for Saturday wouldn’t be finalized until Friday evening, but Summerhays said he hoped they’d get to play together. And, they hope, make Washington feel even more like home.