TOUR Insider: Guthrie tries to avoid fatigue in 2013-14 season with scheduling

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Preview: The McGladrey Classic

An elite field of golf that includes six major champions heads to The McGladrey Classic, where they will take on the par-70 Seaside Course in Sea Island, Ga.
November 06, 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Luke Guthrie is 23 years old, so he can be forgiven for a few bad decisions. He made a few bad choices last year that directly affected his PGA TOUR standing and he made another unfortunate decision years ago that is still causing distress.

The first problem is easily rectified. Guthrie simply played in too many tournaments as a PGA TOUR rookie.

You can understand his reasoning. He wanted to get off to a good start in his PGA TOUR career. Guthrie found early success and figured he could just play his way out of any slump, plus every time he took a week off another player passed him in FedExCup standings.

That reasoning did not work.

Guthrie played in 27 events, made 14 cuts and finished a very respectable 72nd in FedExCup points.

He accomplished all that with a bad finish to his season.

Guthrie made the cut in seven of his first 10 tournaments. He posted five top-30 finishes in those events, including solo third at The Honda Classic.

In March he had secured his PGA TOUR card for next season.

You can understand Guthrie’s thought process. He was playing well, was excited to be on the PGA TOUR and was trying win.

So the Illinois graduate played in just about every event he could enter. The results were good, including a T8 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Then the summer arrived and so did the fatigue.

Guthrie had an accomplished amateur career at Illinois. He was used to playing lots of golf, but wasn’t accustomed to playing at this level.

The PGA TOUR isn’t about casual rounds of golf with your college buddies. It’s not like hitting balls at your local club. It’s airline connections, weekly travel, hotel rooms, restaurant food and competition against the best players in the world.

All that worked against Luke when summer arrive.

Guthrie kept playing but the results were not the same. From April through September, his best finish was a T21 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The summer months took their toll as Guthrie made two cuts in his last 10 events. He did not make a single check in the month of July, and while it’s great for a PGA TOUR rookie to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, Guthrie missed the cut at both The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship.

The solution? Better scheduling.

Guthrie says he will not play more than three tournaments in a row this season and will be more judicious in his practice habits.

The early results are promising. After a month of rest following Deutsche Bank, Guthrie finished T5 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Sometimes less is more.

Now, what about that other decision?

Guthrie grew up in Quincy, Ill. That’s 124 miles from St. Louis, and 314 miles from Chicago.   That’s right on the border separating Cardinal and Cub territory.

His father in a devoted Cardinal fan but Luke chose to join Cubs Nation. Instead of enjoying St. Louis' 19th World Series this fall, he endured the Cubs' 68th consecutive rebuilding season.

Some decisions are not easily corrected.

Observations

Overseed: The Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort usually gives up plenty of low numbers. Tommy Gainey shot 60 in the final round to post a winning score of 16 under last year. Scoring could change this year because of the date change. The November start means windier and cooler conditions. Winds usually increase at Sea Island during the winter months and the cooler temperatures led to overseed. Tournament officials did not want dormant bermuda, so winter rye grass was planted. The fairways are a beautiful green that should provide better lies and mean few balls in the rough as more grass usually equates to slower fairways.

Tournament host: This should be a good week to evaluate the game of Davis Love III. He lives at Sea Island and is the tournament’s unofficial host. It was hard to get a read on his game the last two years. Love was consumed with his Ryder Cup captaincy in 2012 and bothered with injuries in 2013. He turns 50 in April of 2014 and is not looking at the Champions Tour, but rather a full PGA TOUR schedule. A nice finish from Love this week would be a great way to start.

Wraparound: How is the new wraparound start to the 2014 PGA TOUR season being received? Some golfers are taking a long-range view of the new scheduling. One player told me he’s “trying to win a million dollars before Thanksgiving.” Consider what it means for a player to perform well in the half dozen events that start the 2014 season. That golfer is already exempt for the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season, but by playing well in the wrap around season he could enough money to be exempt into the next year, securing playing privileges into the fall of 2015. To eat Thanksgiving dinner knowing you have a job for the next two years is a great enticement for PGA TOUR players.

Winner, winner: There are so many players who live at Sea Island it’s hard to pick against their local knowledge. But I am going in a different direction. Charles Howell III always starts the season strong and that trend has continued. He began the 2013-14 season with a pair of top 10s and should play well this week. Howell is a great wind player, and with gusty conditions in the forecast, Charles should perform well this week.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information, click here

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