Sunnehanna Amateur, The Tournament to Play for Every Aspiring Champion


Have you ever heard the name Sunnehanna? However, this name should be familiar to you. The Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament has been a staple for PGA Tour champions since 1954. Why? Because 38 of the former participants have won 89 majosr in combined and 23 majors since 2000!

Review of this tournament which takes place on 54 holes, each year in Pennsylvania.

Since 1954…

A year before the first edition, Charles Kunkle Junior brought together several members of the Sunnehanna Country Club to bring up to date the amateur tournament which was born in 1936 but had been stopped to have become a true gambling pit.

The new edition will have to be social. Everyone is invited and the watchword is that the reception of members should be remembered longer than the scores of the participants.
In 1954, the Sunnehanna tournament thus became the first 72-hole tournament for the high level amateurs. Back then, amateurs only played match play. But with the rapid growth of the professional round, the urge to play stroke play even for amateurs was only stronger.

Add to that the time and the TV channels as well as the careers of the former participants, and the Sunnehanna Amateur is a must for all high level amateurs.

A must for future PGA Tour players

Looking at the names that have taken part in this amateur tournament, the theory that this is a must for future PGA Tour winners has only been proven. And we even wonder who has not played the Sunnehanna amateur tournament, one day or another.

Impressive Statistics

Here are the statistics that the organization of the tournament prides itself on:

  • 166 alumni have won a combined total of 1,170 tournaments on the PGA Tour
  • 20 players have been named Player of the Year since 1990
  • 14 Rookies of the year since 1990

Since 1954, if we cross the list of former participants who have won a PGA Tour tournament, there are no less than 157 players. From Jack Nicklaus to the recent Collin Morikawa via Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson or Tiger Woods.
In short, the players who played this tournament risk finding themselves ranked world number 1 such as David Duval or Justin Thomas.

An impressive collection of photos of Sunnehanna Amateur participants

In 64 years, the organization of the tournament has seen players of all caliber. Some of which have become or are in the process of becoming legends. Besides, she wanted to share her photos with you.

And when we see Collin Morikawa’s unstoppable rise on the PGA Tour, we think that perhaps a legend is being written before our eyes.

Collin Morikawa won it at 19 years old

Collin Morikawa with the Sunnehanna Amateur trophy in 2016

For the recent winner of the PGA Championship, this tournament seems to have been a taste of what to expect in 2020.
After winning the 2016 edition with 3 strokes ahead of KK Limbhasut, he declares that to have your name next to all the great players who played and won this tournament is amazing.
What is incredible is that 3 years later he turns pro, wins 3 tournaments including 1 major, is ranked number 5 in the world and is 2nd in the FedEx Cup (exact as of August 11, 2020).
Is this an exception? Or can we expect the same? Maybe yes with the victory of the youngest player in Sunnehanna history.

Will Preston Summerhays be like Rickie Fowler or Collin Morikawa?

Peter Summerhays becomes youngest player in history to win Sunnehanna
Preston Summerhays wins the postponed edition in 2020

This year (2020) and exceptionally the edition of the tournament took place in July (usually in June). And besides Preston Summerhays was not to be there either. He had to defend his title of US Junior Amateur!

The 18-year-old who will be attending Arizona State University played a total of -14 over 3 rounds. He thus becomes the youngest player to have won the tournament. In fact, this victory was something special for this 100% Utah golf family.
His father Boyd is now Tony Finau’s caddy, and his sister Grace was preparing for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She will not pass the first stage of stroke play with her score of +8.

An burst after 2-3 years playing this tournament

Looking at the timeline of the recent winners, 2 to 3 years pass before they pass as a professional. Rickie Fowler who won 2 consecutive editions (2007-2008), went pro in 2009. Webb Simpson, winner of the 2006 edition, went pro in 2008.

On closer inspection, this lapse of time is due to the university course that follows. In the case of the most recent winner; Summerhays, he begins his university cycle at the beginning of the next school year in Arizona. Should we wait until 2021-2022 to see Summerhays explode and have a start as thunderous as Collin Morikawa? Unless the future champion is among the list of participants?

About Nicolas BYKOFF

Writing about golf? Why not? After having spent nearly 20 years in the game, I am granting myself the right to write about golf. Don't agree? Contact me.

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