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Guthrie gives golf a boost with pro-am

LOCAL GOLF took center stage under sunny skies Monday at Spring Lake Country Club when Quincy native Luke Guthrie and 17 other professionals teed it up with 72 amateurs in the inaugural WGEM/Herald-Whig TriState Pro-Am. Read More

Luke Guthrie has local following all throughout John Deere Classic

Luke Guthrie, from Quincy, Illinois, had a solid week at the 2015 John Deere Classic.

The Illini grad got his Sunday off right with a 13-foot birdie on Hole 1.  Guthrie got to 13-under with that shot.

On Hole 14, Guthrie was at it again, with his second shot landing about 16-inches from the cup. This put Guthrie at 14-under par, and that’s where he ended the tournament, tied for 14th.

Throughout the week, Guthrie had quite a following. People from Quincy came out to support him during his run at the JDC.

Making the cut: Luke Guthrie at the John Deere, a ‘hometown’ event

Luke Guthrie is in his third season on the PGA Tour following a stellar career at the University of Illinois. He is fighting for his PGA Tour livelihood as he currently stands 138th on the FedEx Cup points list and only the top 125 at regular season’s end in August are guaranteed to retain their Tour cards. The 25-year-old Quincy, Illinois native is accompanied on his travels by his older brother Zach, a former college golfer and assistant golf coach at Illinois. Zach serves as Luke’s full-time caddie on Tour, a partnership that has allowed the siblings to form a close bond. Luke and Zach have agreed to share their experiences on the road as the sibling team attempts to remain – and hopefully thrive — on the PGA Tour.


Guthrie putts his way to top-10 finish in Valspar Championship

Posted: Mar 16, 2015 10:48 AM CDT


PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Luke Guthrie found the rhythm and the putting stroke to get his game back on track.

The Quincy native opened Sunday’s final round of the Valspar Championship with back-to-back birdies, including draining a 37-foot putt, and went 15 holes without a bogey, carding a 3-under 68 to finish tied for seventh at 5-under 279 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course.

It is the sixth top-10 finish of Guthrie’s career and highest finish since tying for fifth at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Oct. 2013.

“Fun week,” Guthrie said. “More to come.”

If he can keep his putter hot, Guthrie could continue climbing the FedEx Cup standings. He earned 85 FedEx Cup points, moving him up 33 spots to 145th in the standings. The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the season retain their tour card for next year.

Tied for 14th heading into the final round, Guthrie left himself a 7-foot putt for birdie on the par-5 first hole and then snaked in the 37-footer for birdie on the par-4 second hole. He added another birdie on the par-4 sixth by draining 26-foot putt and made the turn at 3-under.

Guthrie got to 6-under overall and tied for third when he made a 17-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th. However, his 7-foot par putt on the 16th lipped out and he took bogey. He closed the round with two pars.

After that, Guthrie watched Jordan Spieth make two improbable par saves to get into a playoff and win the Valspar Championship on the third extra hole by making a 30-foot birdie putt to beat Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair.

“I would rank those definitely in the top five I’ve ever had given the lies and the scenario,” Spieth said.

And the winning putt?

“That’s just luck,” he said with a smile. “Guess it was my day.”

It put an end to an afternoon of back-nine charges, big birdie putts and clutch par saves, the latest chapter in a PGA Tour season that already has featured eight playoffs.

This one was off the charts.

Reed rammed in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to cap off a 5-under 66, and then was lounging in a chair waiting to see if anyone could catch him, and they how many would join him. O’Hair got there with a 30-foot birdie on the 16th hole and a tough par save on the 18th, making a 5-foot putt look far easier than a guy who has now gone 87 starts since his last win.

Spieth looked like he wouldn’t make it to the finish line. Tied for the lead, he left his 6-iron well to the right on the par-3 17th and was hopeful of the best. He said to caddie Michael Greller, “Please be a good lie or not on a down slope.”

It was a terrible lie on a down slope.

Spieth hit a flop shot that landed perfectly and rolled 6 feet by the hole, and he saved his par. On the 18th, he hit a fat shot from a fairway bunker some 35 yards short, with a clump of grass behind it and the grain of the grass into the ball. Greller’s advice was for Spieth to at least have a chance for par. He hit another flop to 12 feet, and the putt fell on the last turn from the left side of the cup.

“A crazy back nine,” Spieth said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ready for round two: Guthrie takes rookie lessons to heart

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Herald-Whig Sports Editor

Luke Guthrie had never played more competitive golf in his life than he did in 2013.

Nor had he ever taken so much time off.

Following an arduous rookie season on the PGA Tour in which he played in 27 events — no one among the top 75 in FedEx Cup points played more — the Quincy native shut his game down for nearly three full weeks.

“I set a record for myself,” Guthrie said.

It was arguably the best decision he made.

“I didn’t want to touch a club until I was dying to do it,” Guthrie said. “I just had to refocus myself and reboot.”

It allowed him to spend 10 days at home during the holidays. It gave him time to find an apartment in Jacksonville, Fla., where he is minutes away from TPC Sawgrass and will have the opportunity to hone his game throughout the year. More than anything, it allowed him to relax.

“I needed it,” Guthrie said.

The Quincy High School and University of Illinois graduate will make his 2014 debut this week in the Humana Challege at the PGA West Palmer Course in La Quinta, Calif. It will be the first of three straight tournaments he’ll play — the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale are the others — before he takes a week off.

“I’m kind of setting that as my limit right now. No more than three in a row,” Guthrie said. “Things happen. You can’t plan things perfectly. If you get in a major, you might end up playing four weeks in a row. If that happens, I’ll probably take two weeks off. I’m going to take things a month at a time and see how it works out.”

It’s vastly different than the approach he took at the start of the 2013 season.

Having earned his tour card following a top-25 finish on the Tour, Guthrie decided to play as much as he could early in the season. He played in the first six events, making four cuts and finishing in the top 25 twice. After a week off, he played five straight events, which included a third-place finish at the Honda Classic.

By the end of March, he had made seven cuts and earned nearly 70 percent of his total winnings for the year.

He made only seven cuts the next five months and missed the cut in seven of his final nine events.

“The game was sketchy from there on in,” Guthrie said.

After missing the cut in the two FedEx Cup playoff events he had qualified for, Guthrie waited nearly a month before teeing it up again. When the PGA Tour’s new wrap-around season opened in October with the Open, Guthrie was ready to go.

He made the cut and finished tied for 40th, but he felt good about his game.

“I played really well that week,” Guthrie said.

Then came a top-five finish at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in which he posted two rounds of 7-under 64. A trip to Shanghai for the BMW Masters followed, and he led the Europen Tour tournament for three rounds before finishing fourth.

That marked three straight weeks of play along with a tremendous amount of travel. It’s no wonder he struggled some in the final two PGA events of the year, missing the cut at the McGladrey Classic and tying for 55th at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

“It made me aware of what my limits are,” Guthrie said.

He knows better than to push those limits.

Guthrie skipped the Sony Open and a trip to Hawaii because he wasn’t entirely enamored with the Waialae Country Club course, and he plans to set his schedule around certain venues.

“You figure out what courses you like, what stops you like,” Guthrie said. “You figure out which ones are suit to your game.”

He believes there are many like that.

“A lot of courses I can adapt to,” Guthrie said. “It seems like I can do well in different venues. I can hold my own.”

That’s clear.

He finished the 2013 season 72nd in the FedEx Cup Standings and 83rd on the money list, and he is viewed as one of the top candidates to win his first PGA title this season. Mike McAllister, the managing editor of, wrote that Guthrie “knocked on the door a few times and will continue to do so this year.”

It’s why Guthrie worked so diligently on his game this winter — after the desire to pick up a club returned.

“I’ve hit a lot of putts,” Guthrie said. “I’m trying to be a student of the game.”

With every lesson learned, he becomes a better golfer.

“Just try to stay patient,” Guthrie said. “That’s what I have to do.”


Guthrie stretches his lead to 4 shots in Shanghai

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SHANGHAI — Luke Guthrie brought only one 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew from America, enough of a caffeine fix to get him through the week without headaches. He packed only one sweater — lime green — because his crash course on Shanghai did not include checking the forecast.

At this rate, Guthrie might end up staying another week, a problem he would love to have.

Guthrie coped with another day of harsh wind and plunging temperatures Friday with a 1-under 71, giving the 23-year-old American a four-shot lead over six players going into the weekend at the BMW Masters.

A victory would make him eligible for his first World Golf Championship next week across town in the HSBC Champions.

“I was just coming over to challenge myself, put myself in a new environment and see what I could make of it,” Guthrie said. “I’m playing well right now. I’ve got 36 more holes and I’m looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully I come out with a ‘W’ and get to stay in Shanghai longer.”

Guthrie never let anyone get closer than two shots at Lake Malaren, and he started to pull away with a 20-foot birdie putt that broke three directions on the par-3 17th. But his misjudged the speed of the 18th green on a long chip, and then narrowly missed a 10-foot par putt on his last hole.

It was a tough way to end a solid day, though he had no complaints at 8-under 136 and four shots clear of the field.

Even as everyone else was battling par and conditions that were getting colder by the minute, Guthrie marched along in short sleeves. That wasn’t by choice.

“I should have looked that up about Shanghai before I came here,” Guthrie said. “I didn’t know exactly what the weather was going to be like. I only have one sweater here. I’m wearing blue and pink today, so I’m kind of out there already. I didn’t want to put a green sweater on top of it. So I just dealt with being a little cold.”

Ricardo Gonzalez didn’t make a bogey until the final hole and still had a 67, the lowest round of the day. Also in a tie for second were Scott Jamieson (68), Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee, Craig Lee and Simon Dyson, who each shot 70.

John Daly showed plenty of power but couldn’t make a putt in his round of 74, which included a double bogey-birdie-bogey finish. He was six shots behind.

Peter Uihlein, who was two shots behind after chipping in for eagle at No. 7, made six bogeys over his next seven holes. He tried to salvage his round with two later birdies, only to catch a mound short of the 18th that sent his approach into the bunker for one last bogey and a 75. He was at 144.

As for Guthrie, not everything that happens in Las Vegas stays there — such as his game. He closed with a 64 in Las Vegas to tie for fifth and then flew straight to Shanghai, leaving him enough time to get over jet lag and see the Jack Nicklaus design at Lake Malaren in the pro-am.

Even if he didn’t bring enough warm clothes, he brought his game.

“I’m playing well. I was in good form coming here and had been hitting it really well,” Guthrie said. “Kind of felt the trend going in the right direction.”

Guthrie made his first bogey of the tournament with a tee shot that left him against the lip of a fairway bunker on No. 5, and he had to knock it out to the fairway. He dropped another shot on the 10th, and hit a poor shot that left him in an impossible spot on the 12th. Everything else, however, was solid. He rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 11th, got up-and-down behind the green on the par-5 15th for a birdie and hit 6-iron into 20 feet on the 17th.

The BMW Masters is the start of “The Final Series” on the European Tour, four tournaments with at least $7 million in prize money that concludes the Race to Dubai. Guthrie, coming off his rookie season on the PGA Tour, has no stake in that. A win, however, would make him eligible for the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, which counts toward the FedEx Cup on the U.S. circuit.

“Still plenty of golf left,” he said.

Only 18 players in the 77-man field were under par, a testament to the tough conditions.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello didn’t figure to be among them until he ran off five straight birdies late in his round for a 68, leaving him five shots behind. Ian Poulter got back in the game until two late bogeys forced him to settle for a 69. Poulter was at 1-under 143, along with Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed the last hole for a 72, and Lee Westwood (71).

Graeme McDowell, in his first event since getting married at the end of September, was trying to push his way up the leaderboard until he bogeyed three of his last five.

“It’s been very tough the last two days in the wind,” Casey said. “These are not conditions I expected or wanted. But it makes a very good, difficult golf course even more so. It’s a great test of golf, which is I guess what we want. This is the Final Series for us in Europe. It’s meant to be difficult, and it has been.”

Guthrie opens 3-shot lead at BMW Masters in China

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The only three Americans in the 78-man field were easy to find Thursday in the BMW Masters.

Just look at the top of the leaderboard.

Luke Guthrie packed a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and flew halfway around the world for one week, hopeful he would at least broaden his experience by playing golf on foreign soil. He got more than he expected. The 23-year-old American took 19 putts — one short of the European Tour record — chipped in twice and had a 7-under 65.

Not only did Guthrie have a three-shot lead, his score was more than 9.67 shots better than the course average.

“It was one of the better rounds I’ve ever played,” Guthrie said.

Even more surprising was the guy right behind him — John Daly, playing for the first time since surgery in July to repair the torn tendon in his right elbow. After a strict rehabilitation of icing the elbow and drinking enough chocolate milk to put on 15 pounds, Daly navigated the 30 mph wind at Lake Malaren without a bogey for a 68.

“I gained a little bit of weight, but when you take 15 or 16 weeks off, you’re going to,” Daly said.

His mother once told him that Vitamin D milk was cure for any ailment. Adding the chocolate was Daly’s idea.

Another shot back was Peter Uihlein, the only American who didn’t seem out of place at this European Tour event in Shanghai.

Uihlein already has won on the European Tour this year, was runner-up twice and is 10th on the money list. He hasn’t forgotten his New England roots. Uihlein watched the Boston Red Sox take a 3-0 lead in the World Series before he headed to the practice range, and perhaps it was no coincidence that upon learning of the 8-1 win, Uihlein played 5-under the rest of the way for a 69.

“It’s a good day,” he said.

Uihlein ended it with an exquisite flop shot from behind the 18th green in which he let the wind hold it up in the air, and used the slope to bring it back to tap-in range.

The biggest surprise was the wind, which ripped across Lake Malaren all day and made the greens particularly fast, firm and crispy. Only 13 players managed to break par, a group that included Graeme McDowell (70) and Rory McIlroy (71).

“I’ve never witnessed wind like this in China,” McIlroy said.

Everything was new to Guthrie, who played in California and Las Vegas the last two weeks to start the new 2013-14 season on the PGA Tour. It makes little sense for him to travel all the way to China for one week before returning to America to play two more PGA Tour events.

But after his debut at the British Open this year — a missed cut — Guthrie was determined to expand his horizons. He flew from Las Vegas to Shanghai, arriving Tuesday and never leaving the hotel. He shook off the jet lag during the pro-am on Wednesday, and he produced a score that no one imagined on such a blustery day.

Guthrie drinks Mountain Dew to a fault, and he couldn’t find any in Scotland. He brought his own stash to Shanghai, which makes him a quick study.

“This is my first time over in China and Asia, and I just wanted to challenge myself to come travel abroad and get used to this, and just keep gaining experiences and get better at becoming a global player,” he said. “And it’s nice to get off to a good start today.”

More important than the caffeine-laced soda was his short game. Guthrie had about a 25-foot putt on the 10th hole when he realized it was the longest putt he had faced all day. And then he realized he had one-putted every green on the front nine.

What skewed the statistics was his three-hole stretch in the middle of the back nine that built some separation — a routine up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 13th, pitching a 25-yard shot over the bunker and into the cup for an unlikely birdie on the 14th, and then using the wind to hold up a flop shot from beyond the green at the par-5 15th. Once it landed, the ball ran toward the cup like a putt and dropped for eagle.

“The leader is 7-under, level par is 14th. That kind of sums it up, really,” McDowell said. “Luke Guthrie is obviously a hell of a player. I don’t know a lot about him except that he’s good. And that was a great performance from him. Another windy day ahead tomorrow, so it’s just a case of trying to jockey for position.”

The BMW Masters is the first of four tournaments called “The Final Series,” all with at least $7 million in prize money as European Tour members make their way to Dubai for the end of the season. McDowell is trying to chase down Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai.

Stenson, who played with McDowell and McIlroy, opened with a 72.

Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee and Wales Open winner Gregory Bourdy were among those at 70. McIlroy had a pair of three-putt bogeys — one of them from 10 feet early in the round — but was pleased with his play from tee-to-green. McDowell said he was looking like “the Rory McIlroy of 2011, 2012,” alluding to when the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland won two majors, each by eight shots.

“It’s a bit ominous,” he said of the ease in McIlroy’s swing.

Coming off a tie for second in South Korea last week, McIlroy was pleased with the quality of his golf, and with his position.

“It could have been better,” he said. “But on a day like today, it’s just good to keep yourself there, or thereabouts.”

Quincy’s Guthrie reflects and looks ahead to PGA Tour

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(WGEM) — In a matter of only four months Luke Guthrie has gone from a Big Ten champ to a champ on the professional golf circuit.

Winning as a pro certainly has more perks than winning as an amateur.

In Guthrie’s case the difference is just shy of $700,000.

The Quincy native was a guest on WGEM Sportscenter Tuesday morning to discuss what it means to have his PGA Tour card in 2013.

“I was sitting in the airport waiting on a flight (Monday) and had the (PGA Tour) card right there in my wallet, and I’m like, ‘Ah, that’s pretty cool,’ so I had to send a Tweet out about it,” he said.

“It’s been a great run and I had a good time Sunday at the ceremony and everything. It’s been fun. ”

Guthrie is back in Champaign finishing out the next goal on his list, and that’s earning a college degree from the University of Illinois which he expects to have in his hands at the end of the semester in December.

For the entire interview with Guthrie, click here.

Luke Guthrie: Stroke of genius

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As the fall class opened, Luke Guthrie sat front and center. Just like always.

But he didn’t need to be there.

While his Illinois classmates spent the summer delivering pizzas and working at the mall, Guthrie found a more lucrative part-time job: playing golf. In a combined 15 PGA and events, he earned $695,265. And his PGA card.

You go to college to set yourself up for a career. Mission accomplished.

Tiger Woods left Stanford early. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James never even started college. How’s that working out?

Guthrie had 13 hours to finish this fall to earn his business management degree. Quitting wasn’t an option.

“I worked hard for four years on being a student-athlete,” Guthrie said. “If I didn’t finish this up that would all be for nothing.
“I’m at a great institution here. I think it’s a big part of life, really, to say you graduated, stuck to something. I’ve never been one to give up.”

Easy call

Guthrie’s decision to return didn’t surprise his coach.

“It wasn’t even a question,” Mike Small said. “He’s such a good student.”

From a practical standpoint, the decision made sense.

“In golf, there’s no guaranteed money waiting for him,” Small said. “We didn’t know how he’d play this summer.”

Turns out, he played well. Very well. The team finished the NCAA meet in California and Guthrie immediately went to play in the St. Jude Classic. Where he tied for 19th and earned $67,892.

“My goal was to treat it like any other tournament and try to be as relaxed as I can and focus on the lead,” Guthrie said. “Try to win them. That’s how I’ve always played tournaments. Don’t go out just trying to make the cut.”

He did even better a month later at the John Deere Classic, tying for fifth and cashing a check for $174,800.

Still, he was coming back to Illinois. In Small’s time as golf coach, every one of his players has earned his degree. Guthrie wasn’t going to be the exception.

“He’s a great kid, a great Illini,” Small said. “He didn’t want to be the first Illini golfer in 12 years not to graduate. He didn’t want that on his mantel.
“He’s got a lot of pride.”

The attitude will serve him well as he moves forward, Small said. The PGA Tour isn’t easy. Endless travel, pressure, playing through different struggles with your game.

Small has experienced it as a player. And watched former teammates hit the wall, too. Now one of the top golfers in the world, former Illini Steve Stricker had a stretch where he couldn’t hit the ball straight. It happens to the best of them.

Guthrie’s got a head start on Stricker. And on Small.

“It took Steve Stricker five years to get his PGA Tour card,” Small said. “It took me seven years to get my PGA Tour card. It took Luke four months.”

Guthrie knows he’s in an unusual spot.

“It’s very cool,” Guthrie said. “That’s a list of some pretty good golfers. I’m hoping to play practice rounds with Stricker and D.A. (Points) and hopefully learning a lot. I’ll try to be a sponge and take as much information as I can from those guys.”

Small won’t predict wins for Guthrie. Not in a sport where you can shoot 61 and still lose. There is no defense. The potential for wins is there.

“He’s not chasing a pipe dream,” Small said. “It’s a perfect fit for his mentality. He’s not looking for the comfort zone.
“He’s not scared. He plays with no fear. He’s so mentally strong. That’s his biggest asset.”

Helping out

Guthrie wasn’t able to make every class in the fall. Not with a schedule full of tournaments. To reach No. 2 on the money list, and earn his PGA card, Guthrie kept busy.

“He was juggling a lot,” Small said. “He worked with his teachers. I think the teachers saw what he was doing, and I think they appreciated it.”

They sure did.

Eric Neuman, an assistant professor of business administration, had Guthrie for a class in fall 2011: Organization, design and environment. Guthrie would show up early for each class, and the two would begin to talk.

“He was completely unassuming,” Neuman said. “If you didn’t know he was on the golf team he would look like anybody else in class.”

Guthrie wasn’t coming into class and bragging about his latest tournament success. No “Ask me about the Big Ten title” T-shirts, either.

“They knew I was playing professional tournaments, that’s about all,” Guthrie said.

There was some awareness of his career path. Wanting to get to know his students better, Neuman had them fill out a fact sheet early in the semester. Under “dream job,” Guthrie put “pro golfer.” Neuman realized Guthrie’s dedication level.

Neuman followed Guthrie’s golf results during the summer on the PGA and tours. He wrote him a note of congratulations, only to find out Guthrie was back on campus.

“Most kids his age would not,” Neuman said. “But knowing Luke, it didn’t surprise me. He was a great student. He was always prepared. He had always done the readings. He always had good comments.”

Finishing his schoolwork means something to Guthrie. And sets an example for others.

“From an instructor’s standpoint, it’s wonderful to see,” Neuman said. “Knowing Luke, it’s great. He deserves it. He’s worked really, really hard both in school and on the course.

“He’s a guy who deserves everything he gets.”

Guthrie is putting lessons he learned in business school to practical use. Like the one about not spending every dime you make. Or any of it.

Despite the big summer paydays, he didn’t buy a Porsche. Or the biggest TV available.

He’s still driving his mom’s Sonata, which he will return to her before his next tournament.

So, any kind of spending spree planned?

“I might go get some nice sunglasses,” Guthrie said.

Small hears about the sunglasses and laughs. Typical Luke.

“He’s very smart with his money,” Small said. “He doesn’t need material objects to feel good about himself. He wants titles, and he wants degrees. He will never have a financial problem in his life.”

Magic moment

January 10. That’s when Guthrie will stand on the tee box at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. And take his first official swing as a member of the PGA Tour.

“I’m going to be nervous,” Guthrie said. “I can’t wait for the challenge.”

The leap from the to PGA Tour is significant in terms of dollars and exposure. The ability of the players isn’t a major change.

“The is full of great players,” Guthrie said. “It’s stacked out there.”

In Hawaii, he’ll have a family member standing a few feet away. Brother Zach will be his caddie.

They were together at Illinois, Zach working as Small’s assistant.

“They just come from good stock,” Small said. “Zach was a nice sounding board for him. When Luke came as a freshman, he wasn’t playing. He came in playing horrible. He’ll admit it. Zach helped him. He didn’t baby him. They have a lot of respect for each other.”

Guthrie is looking forward to life on the road with his big brother.

“We’re going to have a blast,” Guthrie said. “It’s so huge to have him on the bag. He can find a way to refocus me. He knows what my swing looks like when it’s good and bad.”

There is a practical side to life on the Tour. Like eating right. And staying healthy.

“I can’t go to Buffalo Wild Wings every night,” Guthrie said. “You have to find a way to get some broccoli in you.”

Guthrie is among the top 125 golfers in the world. To move up the list, the goal is simple: play well in the big events.

“If I play well that stuff will take care of itself,” Guthrie said.

His confidence grows with each 15-foot birdie putt. Winning the Big Ten twice helps. So does his two titles on the Tour.

“It’s all about belief,” Guthrie said.

Stricker has become famous for crying after wins. You won’t likely see that from Guthrie when he holds up his first trophy.

“I’m smiling really big,” Guthrie said. “I won’t predict a huge Tiger Woods fist pump. I will be a very happy camper on the inside.”

Coming back

After Hawaii, Guthrie will play in California, Florida and Texas.

But you haven’t seen the last of him in Champaign-Urbana. Not by a long shot.

“I think he loved it here,” Small said. “I think he still loves it here. He’s the kind of guy who might live here. He loves Illinois. He is so deep in all this stuff.”

On the Tour, his bag will be loaded with Illinois paraphernalia. The Block I will be everywhere.

Guthrie plans to talk to Small while on the Tour. A lot.

“He’s been so important to me,” Guthrie said.

His girlfriend, Kaitlyn Wampler, is a senior on the Illinois women’s golf team. They have dated for three years.

“I’m sure she’ll get out and watch when she can,” Guthrie said. “But she’s got her own job here, getting better every day and helping her team to a

Big Ten championship and finishing school. She’s got her priorities, too.”