By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
MEMPHIS — As they walked the 10th fairway Saturday, Luke Guthrie told his caddie, Ryan Franks, it was time to make a run at the leaderboard.
"I said, ‘Let's play a good solid nine holes and see where it gets me,'" Guthrie said.
It has the Quincy native knocking on the door of the top 10.
Guthrie played the back nine at TPC Southwind in 3-under par, finally got the better of his personal nemesis at the end of the round and posted a round of 67 that moved him to 3-under 207 and into a tie for 11th in his PGA Tour debut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
He is one of 19 players within three strokes of the lead.
"Now it's time to finish," Guthrie said. "Three rounds in the book, but there is still one to go."
Because of impending thunderstorms, tournament directors decided to alter the tee times for Sunday's final round. The field will be grouped into threesomes, starting from Nos. 1 and 10, between 7 and 9 a.m. The hope is the entire field can finish before storms take hold.
So Guthrie will tee off at 8:16 a.m. alongside Dustin Morris and Ryan Palmer. They will be the fifth to last group off on No. 1.
"It's the same approach. It's the same game," Guthrie said. "I feel comfortable at this golf course. It suits me. So we'll go out and try to finish this right."
He afforded himself that opportunity with some solid shot-making Saturday.
Guthrie opened the third round with a birdie at No. 1 after sticking his approach shot to 6 feet and making the birdie putt. He missed a 7-footer for birdie on No. 2 and had to tap in from inches away for par on No. 3.
A good start could have been a great one, but Guthrie didn't let it bother him.
He bogeyed No. 5 and ran into some struggles with his irons during the closing stretch of the front nine. But although he missed the green on the final four holes, he was able to get up-and-down each time for par and was even when he made the turn.
That was encouraging.
"I knew I could make some shots," Guthrie said. "I needed putts to fall."
At No. 12, they started rolling in.
Guthrie stuck a wedge from 94 yards out to within 5 feet and made the putt to get into red numbers. On the par-4 13th, he landed an iron from 178 yards about 30 feet from the cup and had a hard breaking putt that he read correctly.
"I knew I hit a good putt," Guthrie said. "It was taking a while to take the break, but it finally did. About 3 feet out, I knew it looked really good. I've had a couple putts this week I thought were in and they didn't go in. So there wasn't any premature walking in or anything like that.
"It was nice to roll one in like that."
He could have done it again on the par-3 14th when his tee shot landed just 5 feet from the pin. The putt slid past, and he tapped in for par. It was one of three straight pars Guthrie made before taking on Nos. 17 and 18.
In the previous two rounds, Guthrie played the final two holes in 4-over, including a double bogey on No. 18 in the first round that kept Guthrie off the leaderboard.
"I had to get back at them," Guthrie said.
Payback began at No. 17. He stuck an iron from 161 yards to 12 feet and confidently made the birdie putt to push him into the top 20. He missed the fairway for the third straight day on No. 18, but he scrambled to make par and finish another round in the 60s.
"It was a very similar to my first round, but I didn't complete that one," Guthrie said. "This one I did."
He had a little help from his putter.
"I just had to get the putter hot for (Sunday) and see what happens," Guthrie said.
Anything seems possible.
"I'll need more than one 30-footer to fall to get up near the lead, but I've done it before," Guthrie said. "I just want to finish it strong."