Summerhays' Friday at Oakmont a tale of two rounds

OAKMONT, Pa. -- Having heard all the horror stories about Oakmont, and getting a taste of its viciousness during his opening round at the U.S. Open, Daniel Summerhays didn't figure to accomplish the rare feat that unfolded at the historic venue on Friday afternoon.

Seven birdies in his second round was impressive enough, but limiting mistakes to shoot the lowest round at Oakmont since the 1994 U.S. Open had a pretty nice ring to it for a guy who wasn't even sure he would be in the field a week ago.

"Yeah, that was a round to remember,'' said Summerhays, whose 5-under-par 65 helped him move into the top five, with the rest of the second round to be completed Saturday. "I need to think a lot about that round, just sear it right into my memory.

"I think at any level and in any profession, you always go through times where you feel like you're inadequate or you're not good enough. And that round today is definitely going to be one that I can push the replay button on at times where you don't feel like you quite have it. That was really special, for sure.''

His 65 after a morning 74 put Summerhays at 139, 1 under par and just 3 strokes behind Dustin Johnson (who has finished his second round) and Andrew Landry, the first-round leader who has yet to play his second round because of Thursday's rain delay. Lee Westwood is at 3 under, with Scott Piercy, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry another stroke back at 2 under.

Summerhays, 32, is in a group of seven players at 1 under. In his 10th year as a pro, he didn't join the PGA Tour until 2011. He has yet to win, and in 18 starts this season, his best finish is a tie for 13th at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

In 68 previous rounds played in 2015-16, Summerhays had managed two scores of 65, one last fall in Las Vegas and the other in Hawaii.

But he was a long way from that in the first round, shooting 74 and taking 33 putts.

"Actually, I drove it great this morning. Hit a lot of fairways, still hit some pretty good iron shots,'' he said. "But my putting was off. My speed was way off. I had three three-putts, which is easy to do out here. I made a couple little adjustments in my putting. They gave us an extra 45 minutes between our rounds so we could actually kind of push the reset button, which was really nice.''

It resulted in what Summerhays said goes to the top of his list of best rounds. A score of 60 when he was in college -- with a putt for 59 -- at BYU had previously been what he considered his top effort. "But this was 65 on Friday at Oakmont in the U.S. Open, so that's got to be No. 1 now," he said.'

Summerhays, who has a single victory on the Web.com Tour, played in two previous U.S. Opens (he tied for 15th last year at Chambers Bay). But he wasn't doing anything special at the outset of the second round.

He bogeyed the first hole to go to 5 over for the tournament, then added two birdies and another bogey to play the first nine in even-par 35, making the turn at 4 over and 8 strokes out of the lead.

Then he got hot on the back side, making five birdies and playing holes 13 through 17 by making 3s on each. He parred the 18th for a back-nine 30 and an overall 65.

"He played great, he putted well,'' said England's Lee Slattery, who shot 68 to also get on the leaderboard. "He hit the ball solid. He's hit the ball solid all day. He hit the ball really solid this morning, shot 4 over par, which I couldn't believe. It was the worst he could have been.

"This afternoon he got the putts to go. He's a really, really good player. A solid ball striker and a great putter.''

And it might not have happened.

Summerhays was not exempt for the U.S. Open, so he had to go through sectional qualifying on June 6 in Columbus, Ohio, after playing in the Memorial Tournament. There, on the final hole of the 36-hole qualifier, he had a 9-footer for birdie to get into a playoff. And he made it.

But the drama was only beginning.

"I had a a roller coaster last week emotionally,'' he said. "It went from the high of getting in, to the next morning we had a playoff, six guys for five spots. I'm like, 'Oh, man, odds are good.' And I was the odd guy out. So I'm walking to the car kicking myself, like how could I do that? Six for five.''

Summerhays was the first alternate from his sectional, and then it was a waiting game as some players withdrew and the final spots in the field had to be filled via the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. When only William McGirt made it through that category, Summerhays was one of five players who got spots on Sunday as alternates.

And now he's making the best of it.

"I'm really enjoying this high right now,'' said Summerhays, who will begin his third round on Saturday afternoon. "I feel like I can get better at mitigating the lows. Really try and just believe in yourself a lot and take a lot of pride in what you do. Life will beat you up a lot. I'm really soaking this in. Roller-coaster week, but I'm enjoying this high right now.''