Luke Guthrie likes the way he is swinging the club, but he knows there is room for improvement.
If that happens, he should find himself in the thick of the chase for the NCAA championship.
Tuesday at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., Guthrie put together a run of four birdies in five holes, got as low as 2-under-par and finished the first round of the NCAA Championships at even-par 72 and tied for 19th in the 156-player field. Guthrie, a Quincy native and junior at Illinois, helped the Illini into a tie for fifth place in the 30-team field. After 54 holes of stroke play, the individual champion is crowned and the top eight teams advance to match play.
Starting on No. 10, Guthrie played the back nine in 1-over, suffering a double bogey on the par-4 13th. The hole proved to be a bugaboo for the entire field. The 156 players combined to play the hole in 88-over. There were five birdies made on the 13th, along with three sevens and one eight, which belonged to Illinois’ Chris DeForest. After the quadruple bogey, DeForest rebounded to finish at even-par and give the Illini a major lift.
Guthrie finished the back nine with a birdie on No. 18, and then made the turn with consecutive birdies at Nos. 1 and 2. He posted two more birdies, but closed with bogeys on three of his final five holes. Guthrie and DeForest tied for the low round for the Illini.
Guthrie said his round was solid, but he missed some short putts.
The tournament continues Wednesday with Guthries teeing off at 8:50 a.m. Check back Wednesday afternoon for another update.