Luke Guthrie Taking Care Of Business

Luke Guthrie spent his week off working on his backup plan, like any other garden variety college student, but like he really needed it, considering he had already made at least a small boatload of money in the summer of his first job out of school.
But this was a Tuesday and he just got out of class from 9:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in something called Management Decision Models, just in case he needs to make some of those kinds of deci-sions. But that’s why he hired agent Mario Tiziani, who happens to be Steve Stricker’s brother-in-law, and Stricker, like Guthrie, played at the University of Illinois.
Guthrie is the hottest player on the Web.com Tour, with two consecutive wins and a playoff loss in his brief professional career. And he will enter this week’s Web. com Tour Championship in Texas know¬ing that he has his PGA Tour card locked up. However, he’s still hoping to become the Web.com Tour’s leading money winner for the year. He’s currently second on the money list behind Casey Wittenberg.
But he left school 13 credit hours short of graduation and he’s trying to get seven of those knocked out when eight-week classes start today at the Champaign cam¬pus, where he’ll be attending next week, driving his mom’s Hyundai Sonata that replaced an aging and ailing Toyota Camry.
For the record, the 22-year-old Guth¬rie has won $382,463 in eight starts on the Web.com Tour this year and another $284,672 in four starts on the PGA Tour. Yet, he’s bound to finish his college degree.
“Mom’s happy about it,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie’s emergence has been one of the biggest surprises of the summer season. He won two Big Ten titles in his collegiate career but little else to create any kind of impressive amateur résumé. So when he turned pro, he was largely anonymous. But, according to Guthrie, expectations were high.
“Honestly, I really didn’t have goals,” Guthrie said. “I got a call on Saturday the week prior to the (FedEx) St. Jude (in Memphis) and I had my first start there. My only goal was to focus on the lead. I didn’t want to just make the cut. I wanted to go out and compete and get in the mix and try to win. I figured if I had an attitude like that, the cuts would come and the good play would come.”
Guthrie tied for 19th in Memphis and three weeks later, he made his next PGA Tour start, at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., about a three-hour drive from his hometown of Quincy. He shot 64 in the final round to finish tied for fifth and cashed a check for $174,800.
The top-10 finish got him into the True South Classic in Mississippi the next week, where he placed T18. Three starts, all in the top 20, but not enough sponsors’ ex¬emptions and not enough money to get a Tour card. The next week on the Web.com Tour would truly shape his year.
He was entered into the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, played on the Scarlet Course at Ohio State, a venue he knew quite well. But it took a bit of luck to even get an invitation. He was the last player in the field, getting a spot when Dylan Fritelli pulled out at the last minute.
He finished 72 holes at 12 under, mak¬ing a 22-foot birdie putt on the final hole to post the low score in the clubhouse. But Ben Kohles made a short birdie putt to tie Guthrie and made a birdie on the first playoff hole from virtually the same spot Guthrie made his in regulation and Kohles literally came out of nowhere to win.
The next week, at the Cox Classic in Omaha, Guthrie took the lead with a 62 in the first round and followed it with a 63 to take a three-shot advantage. But a 71 in the third round knocked him out of the lead and he wound up tied for third behind Kohles’ second straight win.
At the Albertsons Boise Open, Guthrie started with 64 and shot another 62 in the third round. A 65 in the final round gave him a four-shot cushion and his first pro¬fessional victory.
“I was able to really enjoy walking up 18,” Guthrie said. “It was pretty surreal. My first professional victory in the first summer of my career was really a blast. I had secured my PGA Tour card and that didn’t hit me for a day or so afterward.”
Guthrie shot a final-round 66 to erase a five-shot deficit at the WNB to win by one for his second straight victory and No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list. And, what would appear to be a well-deserved week off turned into some serious schoolwork.
But after a summer of managing a startup small business that turned very quickly into a well-run going concern, Guthrie might be asked by his professors to take over the classes for a day.
Any questions?

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