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March 1 2013

2:24 PM

Guthrie sets the bar at 9 under

By PGATOUR.COM staff

Luke Guthrie carded the best round of his PGA TOUR career on Friday, and it gave him the lead at The Honda Classic.

Guthrie, 23, shot a 7-under 63 in the morning wave to reach 9 under for the week, good for a one-shot lead over Michael Thompson at PGA National.

Guthrie's previous best was a 64 in the final round of the 2012 John Deere Classic and in this year's third round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

After a lesson with University of Illinois men's golf coach Mike Small, his coach in college, Guthrie felt that his game was coming around. He even told Small in a conversation on Thursday night that he thought he was on the verge of something special.

"He asked me how I was going and I said this is the best offense I've had on a golf course in awhile," Guthrie said. "I was really hitting good, crisp shots, firing at flags, and I felt like I could have shot 5 under yesterday pretty quickly. I was pretty excited to get back out here and kept it rolling."

He certainly kept it rolling, with birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 15. He then closed with four birdies on his final nine for a bogey-free round.

Guthrie said he came into 2013 with two goals. One was getting in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship -- which he did not achieve. But he's now in position to achieve his second goal.

"First goal I didn't achieve, I'll share, that I wanted to get to the Match Play," Guthrie said. "But besides that, win a tournament. I keep it pretty simple. I want to win."

Guthrie would also be playing in his first final group -- if his score holds up -- on Saturday. To put it mildly, he's excited.

"I'm pumped for it," he said. "I don't think I've got to the final group yet. I was about three groups off at the John Deere last year I think. I can't wait for that."

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