COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just last month Luke Guthrie made less than $1,500 on the Web.com Tour.
Now, off the back of three recent top-10s and a medalist performance at sectional qualifying, the former Illinois star is heading to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next week.
Guthrie set the pace at the sectional played at Scioto Country Club and Brookside Country Club despite it being the site littered with PGA TOUR players.
He shot out of the blocks with an 8-under 64 at Brookside before calmly holding firm with a 3-under 67 at Scioto to lead the pack of qualifiers that included TOUR winners Jhonattan Vegas, Jason Dufner, Luke Donald, Aaron Baddeley, Chesson Hadley and Rory Sabbatini among others.
The 29-year-old is no stranger to the TOUR having played it from 2013 to 2016, making the FedExCup Playoffs in the first two seasons. His best result was a third place at The Honda Classic in 2013.
He got there in spectacular fashion. Having forged an impressive college career, which coincidentally kick-started with a win at Scioto Country Club, Guthrie turned pro in 2012.
Within 10 starts on the Web.com Tour, he had two wins and would finish second on the money list to earn his way to the PGA TOUR.
His time on the TOUR started well enough, but then he fell in an all too familiar trap.
“I came out of college playing awesome golf. I didn’t overthink it, I just got out of my way and things were happening. Balls were going in, you don’t ask questions,” Guthrie said.
“Then it stopped and you start asking questions. You start working on things, trying to get better, and in that process, not trying to, I compromised some of the things that make me me.”
In Guthrie’s case this was trying to do more with his swing and ball flight. As a natural cutter of the ball he thought he should try to add a draw to his resume. He did not get the desired effect.
“Basically I was a cutter my whole life and could not draw the ball to save my life and I thought that was a flaw. And now looking back it was a strength,” he said.
“I tried to hit a draw and I could end up hitting a draw, or slice, or hook… so I kind of lost the face a little bit in search of getting better.”
Guthrie says it has been a three-year battle to return to his natural self. In that time he has sunk to the depths, starting this season with only conditional status on the Web.com Tour. A poor beginning to the season made starts hard to come by and he found himself battling away at Monday qualifiers.
In early May he had earned just $1,457.50 and was 177th on the Web.com points race.
But recently things have begun to look up. In the last month he was tied for sixth at the KC Golf Classic, tied for fourth at the Evans Scholars Invitational and was sixth again at the Rex Hospital Open to move up to 35th on the money list ($72,439) and 43rd on the points list.
And then of course he has booked his spot at Pebble Beach. Guthrie has played the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two times, finishing inside the top 35 on both occasions. And this will be his third U.S. Open having qualified through the Columbus sectional on all three occasions.
“I’m coming back stronger than ever. Three years ago I played golf waiting for the train wreck a little bit, just felt like odds weren’t in my favor because I didn’t feel like my game was near where it needed to be,” he adds.
“But I come to the golf course now and it’s the opposite. I feel like I am kind of waiting for that hot stretch. Now I have gotten to the point where it is just me again. It wasn’t fun, it’s been a grind, but it’s pretty cool to be going to the U.S. Open.
“Hopefully this is the launch of the second part of my career.”