Summerhays rebounds to lead Sanderson Farms

Daniel Summerhays hits out of the sand trap on the seventh hole during the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament, Thursday, July 18, 2013 in Madison, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
July 18, 2013, 9:10 PM

MADISON, Miss. — Daniel Summerhays rebounded from a disappointing finish last week in Illinois to take the lead Thursday in the rain-delayed first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Four days after squandering the final-round lead in the John Deere Classic, Summerhays shot a 9-under 63 to open a three-stroke lead. He had an eagle and seven birdies in a bogey-free round in steamy conditions at Annandale Golf Club.

“You have to enjoy these moments,” Summerhays said. “Sometimes we take good golf for granted and you forget how hard this game is. It can be a really hard game, so I’m just soaking it in. I’m really excited about where my game is at and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on the weekend and testing myself again.”

Will Claxton, Michael Bradley and Jonathan Randolph shot 66. Chad Campbell and D.J. Trahan, both former winners in the event, topped the group at 67.

The entire afternoon group was unable to finish because of storms that hit the course in suburban Jackson. Play was stopped at 2 p.m. and never resumed. Players returned to the practice areas at 6 p.m. with a plan to restart an hour later, but PGA Tour officials determined the course was too wet.

The 29-year-old Summerhays was in position to win his first PGA Tour title last week, but followed a third-round 62 with a 72 to finish a stroke out of a three-way playoff that Jordan Spieth won to earn a spot in the British Open. Tied for the lead with a hole to play, Summerhays closed with a bogey after his second shot buried in a greenside bunker.

“You take all the positives,” Summerhays said. “I shot 18-under par for 72 holes and was standing on the 18th fairway with a chance to win the golf tournament. That can only breed confidence. … When you’re driving the ball well and hitting your wedges well and feel like you can make almost any putt, it’s a really fun game. I was really excited to come play this morning.”

Summerhays eagled the par-5 18th — his ninth hole — with a 17-footer from the fringe. He birdied four of the next five holes, including the long par-4 fourth.

“I definitely got things going with that eagle on 18,” Summerhays said. “That was nice.”

Major winners Davis Love III, David Toms and Mike Weir, grouped together in the first two rounds, finished four holes before play was stopped. Kevin Kisner was the top player in the afternoon session, playing the first six holes in 4 under.

The tournament has a history of rain delays, whether as a summertime event opposite the British Open — as it has been the last three years — or a fall tournament. In 2009, the tournament was cancelled after torrential rain drenched the course for five straight days.

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