DUBLIN, Ohio – After a second-round 69 propelled him into the final group on Saturday at the Memorial, Daniel Summerhays exited the scoring room and entered a side media area in the Muirfield Village clubhouse.
“I’ve never walked through this door,” he said.
It was, for a moment, a peculiar comment, considering Summerhays finished T-4 at this event in 2012. Presumably, someone would have wanted to talk to him.
“Everyone was down on 16 watching Tiger chip in,” he explained.
Five years later, Summerhays has the stage all to himself.
A Saturday 68 has the 33-year-old from Utah three shots clear of Matt Kuchar and in position for his first PGA Tour win.
Five shots back to start the day, Summerhays made up that deficit in five holes, when his playing partner, the 36-hole leader Jason Dufner, imploded almost immediately.
Summerhays has held the 54-hole lead or co-lead on three separate occasions but has never managed to close the deal.
“There will definitely be nerves,” he said, looking ahead to Sunday. “I’ll probably hit a few putts with the hands shaking and everything like that. But it’s nothing I haven’t experienced before.”
To steady himself Sunday, Summerhays will rely on a pair of major performances from last summer, his tie for eighth at the U.S. Open and his solo third at the PGA Championship.
“Last summer was a big deal for me,” he said. “Playing in the last two or three groups at the U.S. Open, that was probably the most nervous I’ve ever felt. That and trying to keep my job back in 2011 after my rookie year at Q-School.
“And then coming down the stretch at the PGA Championship last year, having a chance to honestly win until Jimmy [Walker] and Jason [Day] kind of pulled away right at the last minute.”
Considering that Dufner gave away a five-shot lead in just five holes Saturday, and that Summerhays had a front-row seat to watch him do it, the 54-hole leader is aware his three-shot cushion doesn’t mean much.
“That’s Muirfield Village,” he said. “A trainwreck can happen at any moment. … Legitimately, from the first hole to the 18th, there’s a double bogey somewhere in there.”