MORE INTERVIEWS: John Deere Classic transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: We'll go ahead and get started. We'd like to welcome Luke Guthrie to the interview room here at the John Deere Classic 2012. You recently turned professional, a top 20 finish in Memphis last month. Obviously off to a good start. Just some comments as it pertains to being here this week and with that top 20 under your belt how you're feeling as you start here at the John Deere Classic this week.
LUKE GUTHRIE: I couldn't be happier to be here, growing up in Quincy, Illinois, a couple hours south of here, and being Illini, if you have a home tournament on the PGA TOUR, this would be it. It's fun to be here and I couldn't thank Mr.Peterson and the stuff enough for giving me a spot and a chance here. I am excited for the week.
I played well down in Memphis, I think I was tied 19th or something like that.
Yeah, just playing at Illinois, it's a big reason why I went there. I thought it was a big program, knew I was going to be playing big events against the top players in the nation, amateur wise, and I think moments like the National Championship, Big Tens and having those pressure moments prepared me for that a little bit.
I just tried to go play golf, just play golf like I know how I can and not do anything special.
Q. What does it mean to you, with this course being designed by D.A. Weibring, to come here and play in this field and this course??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Exactly. Obviously D.A. is from Quincy and everything, and it's cool to just have the quality golf that's coming out of Quincy. It's kind of unique, and have D.A. Weibring there, and to be coming out of that town and just be playing here is unique, and I don't think many other players have this kind of opportunity, to kind of play in front of a home crowd. I know a lot of Quincy people will be coming up this week and a lot of people from Illinois. It's going to be fun for me playing in front of everyone, and it's not going to add any pressure or anything, it's just going to be a cool environment out there, and I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Any idea of the numbers of followers from Quincy that will be here? I hear it's going to be a lot.
LUKE GUTHRIE: I think there's going to be a decent amount. Down in Memphis I probably had 20-ish people there, so I would think it would be upwards of that. Hopefully they come out. I know a lot of people especially on Friday for Illini Day here, there will be a lot of people from Champaign I know here. That's going to be fun.
Q. After kind of getting the jitters out in Memphis, do you feel as nervous going into this one??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Honestly I wasn't that nervous going into Memphis. I mean, kind of nothing to lose. But I just tried to stay really focused at Memphis. It was obviously my first pro event, PGA TOUR event, and I'm sure it's easy to get sidetracked on that.
I just tried to go out there and win and tried to stay focused on the leaders and not fall into the trap of just trying to make the cut, like focus on that number. You want to set your goals high, and if you're focusing on the leaders you're going to have that number in your mind and trying to get there, and hopefully you are the leader. But yeah, so I don't want to set a feeling on myself and be focusing on the cut or something like that. I'm here to compete, and hopefully I'm there on the back nine on Sunday.
Q. You say that you come here to win. You finished 19th in your first PGA TOUR event. What's a realistic goal for this week? What do you want to do?
LUKE GUTHRIE: Same goal as every tournament I play. I want to be there the back nine of the last day. I mean, that's why I practice, that's why I play. I love having a putt to win something that really matters. I just hope I get that chance this week. I just want a chance the back nine. I relish those moments.
Q. The changes to the Tour school situation, qualifying, does that put a little urgency into the chances that you get out here this year??
LUKE GUTHRIE: I mean, yeah, obviously that would be awesome to be able to get close to that level later in the year to start thinking about that. No, this week I'm just going to try to play golf. I mean, that's-- down the road, that's in the fall, I'm going to just try to stay focused this week and have a good week. I'm going to have a good support system behind me, my family will be here and a lots of friends, and play good golf, good smart golf, play to the strong side of pins and hopefully make a lot of putts.
Q. Did you look up to D.A. at all growing up? Were you aware of him?
LUKE GUTHRIE: I didn't get to meet him very much. I think I've met him a couple times. But yeah, of course, D.A. Weibring's name is all over that town. It's kind of pride for your hometown to have a guy like that to win on the PGA TOUR and out there on the Champions Tour, played well there for a couple years, really well, and yeah, just love following in his footsteps.
Q. What are your memories of the Quad Cities from your high school golfing days??
LUKE GUTHRIE: When I was playing here? I played Short Hills Country Club for a conference here in East Moline. I was able to win that. That was an awesome course. I had a lot of fun there.
Yeah, I was up here a lot with the Western Big Six; four of the six teams in that conference are up here. I was a big basketball nut. I didn't play. I wasn't good enough to play. But I followed and actually traveled to a couple like regional championship games up here and was yelling in favor of the Blue Devils back then. But yeah, I have a lot of memories of the Quad Cities, and it's been fun up here.
Q. Have you played this course prior to this week??
LUKE GUTHRIE: I played it a long time ago when I was probably 12 because my brother, when he was playing high school golf, played the conference up here, and I played a practice round with him. I was probably playing the red tees, though.
Q. If there's one person that can teach you the ropes at this course it's Steve Stricker. What's it mean to play a practice round with him later today??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Yeah, hopefully that works out. Yeah, that would be awesome. I mean, I've got to meet Stricker a couple times with the Stricker fundraiser that he comes back and gives his time for Illinois. He's an awesome guy. He's the nicest guy I've ever met. Just being an Illinoisan, kind of being able to learn from him through that avenue, he's talked to the team a few times, and just to see his perspective on how he plays golf and how he just goes about his business, somebody that you can really admire and learn from.
Q. What do you ask him about this course, this event? What questions do you ask him to prepare yourself for this week?
LUKE GUTHRIE: Just really a lot of just watching, watching how he handles his business and how he plays golf and probably how he dominates inside about 150 yards is probably something that's pretty unique. I've never gotten to play with him. I've seen him hit some shots, but there's probably nobody better inside 150. So I would just be a sponge, take as much as I can from him.
Q. Do you know the last person to win here besides Steve Stricker??
LUKE GUTHRIE: That was a long time ago (laughter).
Q. Zach Johnson.
LUKE GUTHRIE: That was going to be my first guess.
Q. That's not right, though.
LUKE GUTHRIE: Who is it?
Q. Kenny Perry in '08.
LUKE GUTHRIE: Kenny Perry, okay.
Q. Your brother is caddying for you??
LUKE GUTHRIE: My brother is going to be on the bag. He just sent my a text, he's on his way from Champaign right now. That's going to be fun to have my bother on the bag this week. He's a good influence on me, he knows me pretty well, and we make a pretty good team, so looking forward to that.
Q. Your first PGA TOUR event together, what's that mean to the Guthrie family??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Yeah, exactly. I wasn't sure if it was going to work out. The Illinois golf junior camp is this week, and he's kind of the head of that, so he's kind of driving back and forth this week. He's being a great brother for me, and I appreciate that. Yeah, it's just going to be great. With him being my assistant coach for the last four years, kind of on the par-3s, he was there on every par-3, and we kind of had some nice dialogue I guess you could say and I kind of got used to that stuff. He's caddied for me a few times, and to be able to put a PGA TOUR one out there, that's going to be fun.
Q. How is life as a professional golfer compared to what you thought it would be??
LUKE GUTHRIE: It's awesome. You have a lot of times on your hands I've learned. You've got a lot of time to practice throughout the day. When I'm at U of I, I'm going to classes all morning, go practice for three hours, it's structured, you've got morning workouts. Now it's easy to sleep in, so you've got to like not do that and get up and get your day going.
Yeah, it's fun. It's a blast, especially when you're out here on the PGA TOUR. It's pretty unique out here. It's fun.
Q. How is the course playing this week in your opinion, and did you get a good look at how you might shape some of your shots??
LUKE GUTHRIE: I was here on Wednesday last year, and it seems like the fairways aren't playing as fast as last year. It's a little softer, I'm sure just because of the 100-degree heat, they're going to keep this place alive. I've seen a lot of courses in Illinois that are kind of dying right now because of that.
No, I'm sure they won't water and it'll get a little faster throughout the week. But the course is in great shape. It's awesome. Greens are running perfect. Yeah, I mean, if I drive the ball well, put the ball in the fairways and get that putter heated up, I think it's going to be a good week.
Q. Can you talk about the Illini program under Mike??
LUKE GUTHRIE: He's a great player in his own right and a great coach. I think a big advantage for going to Illinois and Illinois players is he teaches you a lot more than just fundamentals. He teaches you how to play the game, just how to handle yourself a lot better. I mean, you can learn a lot from a guy like that. He's been in every situation. He's played in I forget how many majors now. He just earned his way to another one this year. He's been out here. He knows the ropes, and to take any advice that he has, yeah, I've just really learned how to play the game I think better than most other college coaches teach it.
Just like not short-siding yourself, playing to the strong points, and the practices that we have to get you in a mindset like that I think separates our program from others.
Q. Obviously it's still early in the week this week, but does it feel different this week compared to Memphis at all??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Not at this point. I mean, it's-- obviously I have one under the belt so I kind of know a little more what's going on. When I got to Memphis I was kind of like what do I do, where do I go register and just the simple things, just trying to figure that out.
No, I know a little bit what I'm doing now, which is kind of nice. But as soon as the people start showing up it'll be a little different because there will be more people that I know here, and it's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to just seeing a lot of friendly faces in the crowd, and hopefully I make some birdies and give them something to cheer about.
Q. Is it kind of easier to fit in out here with the influx of youngsters playing on the TOUR right now? Does it make you feel like you fit in as opposed to playing against a bunch of guys in their 30s and 40s?
LUKE GUTHRIE: Definitely. There's a lot of guys I played against when I was a freshman and sophomore and junior in college and they're out here, like Bud Cauley and Harris English. Those guys have come out and been really successful. There's so many good players coming out of college now that can compete out here and can play well. I don't know exactly who's here this week, but I'm sure I'll see a lot of people, and I look forward to seeing some other Illinis and stuff. I know my coach is going to be coming up here on Friday. I know D.A. Points is here, so I'm looking forward to seeing those guys.
Q. Does it boost your confidence seeing these young guys have success the way they have, breakout success right out of college??
LUKE GUTHRIE: Yeah, definitely. It's awesome to see those guys succeed, and to know I was-- for example, playing Harris English in match play of the National Championships my junior year and then he comes out and plays so well at Q-school. Just to know that I can do that. I know I can put myself in the situation that he has and be successful out here, and it's exciting to see people like that playing well. I just hope I get the opportunity to-- more opportunities to prove myself out here.
Q. Do you talk to D.A. Points all the time? Talk about taking pride in being an Illini out here.
LUKE GUTHRIE: Yeah, I've talked to D.A. a few times. I think he's going to be out here today, so hopefully I get to see him and talk to him a little bit. But yeah, being Illini, it's something that's unique, I think, and once you become part of that golf team, tee it up as a freshman, you're a part of a family. They kind of make that known, and it's pretty-- it's a unique town, and I couldn't be happier that I'm Illini, Illini forever. Yeah, it's awesome.
DOUG MILNE: Luke, we appreciate your time, and best of luck this week.