By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Luke Guthrie has always valued creativity around the green.
This week, he'll appreciate it even more.
The Quincy native tees it up Thursday in the 114th U.S. Open, tackling a course that is expected to humble the world's best shot makers.
"I've never played a course quite like this," Guthrie said of Pinehurst No. 2, which is hosting the U.S. Open for a third time. "I don't know if anybody has played a course quite like this."
That's because, in one very distinct way, this course is entirely different than any other U.S. Open course.
There is a no rough.
"Not a single blade of rough," Guthrie said.
That's more like the British Open, not the U.S. Open.
"It's the closest thing to golf in Scotland," Guthrie said.
So grip-n-rippers be warned: You're going to have to make smart, controlled shots to tame this course.
"You don't go low here," said Guthrie, who tees off at 1:20 p.m. Thursday playing alongside Danny Willett and Cory Whitsett. "The greens are pretty intense, and controlling your distance is key. You're not going to hit a lot of greens. So you have to leave the ball in the correct spots to get up-and-down."
That's where creativity and judgment are so important. Do you play a bump and run? Do you sky an approach with a lofted club? Do you leave an approach short just to ensure you don't go long?
There are going to conversations between golfers and caddies as every shot will require strategy.
"You're going to have to stay patient," Guthrie said.
As Guthrie pointed out, you better avoid big numbers, too.
"There are only five scoring holes or so out there," he said. "Staying away from (double bogeys) is crucial. Those are hard to make up."
That was clearly the case last weekend.
After opening the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a 3-under 67, Guthrie slipped back in the back by playing the final three rounds in 3-over. He put a double bogey on his card on each of those rounds, finishing with five double bogeys overall.
Guthrie still finished inside the top 50, thanks to the 15 birdies he rolled in all weekend.
"I finally have the offensive part of my game going," Guthrie said. "I'm making birdies and giving myself chances. The next step is to get my defense better. That's how you avoid the doubles and the big numbers."
He'll do his best to avoid those this week.
"Everyone is going to struggle," Guthrie said. "Whoever stays patient is going to make a run at it. Patience is the real key."