Schuckman: Guthrie looks, plays like a pro - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

Schuckman: Guthrie looks, plays like a pro

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By MATT SCHUCKMAN Herald-Whig Sports Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Luke Guthrie believes he already has one aspect of being a professional golfer nailed.

"I have the bag," he said. "I look the part."

The Quincy native played the part pretty well, too.

Making his PGA Tour debut in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the TPC Southwind, Guthrie set the bar for his burgeoning career extremely high. He made the cut, earned a top-20 finish and posted red numbers, finishing at 3-under 277 and tying for 19th in a field that included 14 previous major championship winners.

"I don't know the stats, but I don't know how many other people could have accomplished that," said Ryan Franks, a life-long friend who served as Guthrie's caddie. "It's a trend I hope continues. I hope it's something where he can start a new record of some sort with that type of play."

Guthrie would be thrilled with that, too, but he doesn't want to base his expectations or his outlook on numbers. He certainly didn't want to do that the first time out.

"I tried to prevent it from going through my head," Guthrie said. "I tried to just go play golf. Obviously, it's tough. It's your first pro event. It's always trying to creep into the back of your mind, "Oh, let's make the cut. Oh, first paycheck.'

"I did a pretty good job trying to get the voice out of my head when I came in. I tried to play solid golf."

The only time he truly felt nervous was standing on the first tee Sunday morning, leading off a threesome that included Ryan Palmer and Dustin Morris. All three began the day at 3-under and just three shots off the lead.

At that moment, the leaderboard was in sight.

"I came out this morning and I was a little jittery and not my best mentally the first couple of holes," Guthrie said.

Other than the fact he pushed his tee shot to the right on No. 1, no one noticed, not even his caddie.

"He didn't show it to me," Franks said. "He didn't show it at all."

That's because Guthrie had the right approach.

He never looked at the St. Jude Classic as the biggest tournament he had ever played or the TPC Southwind as the most challenging course he has seen. He was humbled by the invitation from tournament director Phil Cannon to make his debut here, but he always believed he could compete.

Having played in the NCAA Championships four consecutive years and at places like Riviera Country Club, Guthrie felt prepared. The moment never swallowed him up.

Truth be told, he was a little disappointed he didn't seize the moment.

"I played well," Guthrie said. "I can honestly say I didn't have my best. I felt like every day I left shots out there. Today, it felt like I left five shots out there, and I finished five or six shots off the lead. That tells me something.

"It shows me I can win out there."

The fact he could bring a crowd to its feet only confirmed it.

Guthrie chipped in from a green-side bunker on the par-5 16th, a two-shot swing that allowed him to get back to even and post one red number in the final round.

"You don't want to be shut out by a golf course ever," Guthrie said.

He was one of only two golfers to eagle the hole Sunday. The other was long-hitting John Daly.

That's just another reason for Guthrie to know this is where he belongs.

"I do feel like a pro," Guthrie said.

He played like one, too.

 

-- mschuckman@whig.com/221-3366

 

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