Rising stars Guthrie and Kohles take fast track to residence on PGA Tour

Luke Guthrie
Getty Images
Luke Guthrie has won twice on the Web.com Tour this year and is No. 2 on the money list, assuring he will be finish among the top 25 to earn a 2013 PGA Tour card.
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 | 10:53 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For all the fretting that college players have to spend a year in the minor leagues under the PGA Tour's new qualifying system, Luke Guthrie already is the second player to show otherwise.

Guthrie won his second straight Big Ten title at Illinois, turned pro after the NCAA Championships and can bank on PGA Tour membership for 2013. He has won twice on the Web.com Tour and is No. 2 on the money list, assuring he will be finish among the top 25 to earn a card.

Already this year, Ben Kohles finished up at Virginia and won his first two starts on the Web.com Tour to assure getting a card. He is No. 4 on the Web.com money list.

Guthrie gets another taste of the future this week in the Frys.com Open.

"I believed I could compete at that kind of level out here," Guthrie said. "I didn't know how I was going to handle that amount of golf. You don't play that many four-round tournaments until you get out here, which it's fine for a couple weeks because the adrenaline is going. But after a couple months to keep playing well was nice, and to keep it rolling. I'm happy with how I've responded to it that."

Guthrie is pursuing more than just golf at the moment. He's still taking classes so he can graduate in December.

"It's hard, because you come out to a site like this and you just want to practice all day long and hang out here all day long," Guthrie said. "You have to go back and do an assignment. It's hard to do, but I worked for four years toward a degree and it's silly to stop now."

RORY HONORS: Rory McIlroy already is assured of at least two more awards this year.

McIlroy officially has wrapped up the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the PGA Tour money list at $8,047,952, the seventh-highest total in tour history. He also has clinched the PGA of America's player of the year award, which is based on points. McIlroy had four wins this year, including the PGA Championship.

Still to be tabulated is the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average, although McIlroy is a lock for that, too, because he has more than a half-stroke lead over Jim Furyk (68.87 to 69.41). Tiger Woods is ineligible for the Vardon because he withdrew in the middle of the final round at Doral this year.

The Jack Nicklaus Award for PGA Tour player of the year is a vote of his peers. Those ballots won't go out until after Disney, though it's hard to imagine anyone topping McIlroy winning four times, a major, and the money title in just 16 tournaments.

He would be the second straight European, and the third in the last five years, to win that award. Luke Donald won in 2011 and Padraig Harrington won in 2008.

THE CLINCHER: Martin Kaymer and Jose Maria Canizares share a peculiar piece of Ryder Cup history.

Both delivered the cup-clinching point for Europe, Kaymer with a 6-foot putt on the 18th at Medinah to beat Steve Stricker, Canizares with a 3-foot putt on the 18th at The Belfry in 1989 to beat Ken Green. What makes both moments unusual is that Kaymer and Canizares had played only one match all week, and went into the Sunday singles without having contributed a point.

And they wound up delivering the point that mattered.

"A little strange," Kaymer said last week at the Dunhill Links Championship. "It was such a fine line between being the hero or the biggest idiot. And fortunately, it went the right way. Obviously, I made the last putt, but it's a little bit of a ... I wouldn't say uncomfortable situation, but a little strange. Because it was not only me. I had the pleasure to make the last putt, but at the end of the day, I got only one point, even though I played only twice."

Kaymer and Justin Rose lost a Friday afternoon fourballs match to Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, and Kaymer sat out all day on Saturday. Canizares didn't play until the final team session, when he and Bernhard Langer lost a fourballs match to Tom Kite and Mark McCumber.

Kaymer said he already has watched video of the cup-clinching putt nearly a half-dozen times.

"It's a good thing, and you should watch it more often," he said. "Because it makes you happy."

DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson will make his debut on Monday Night Football with a wedge in his hand and at $1 million to provide new books to needy children through a nonprofit called "First Book." Mickelson's 100-yard shot in the "KPMG Chip4Charity" will take place next Monday at Qualcomm Stadium at halftime of the San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game. He will be in one end zone, aiming at a target in the other end zone that has a green ($50,000 that will buy 20,000 books), three rings (the outer ring worth $100,000) and a bulls-eye worth $1 million. ... Mexico has been selected as host of the 2016 World Amateur Team Championships, the 50-year anniversary of when it first hosted the event. It joins the United States, Australia, Argentina and Fiji as countries that have been chosen to host the event twice. ... Patrick Reed, who made it through Monday qualifying six times this year for PGA Tour events, is playing the Frys.com Open as a sponsor exemption.

STAT OF THE WEEK: There have been eight rounds of 61 on the PGA Tour this year, all on different golf courses.

FINAL WORD: "I asked the scorer when I got done if there was a chance I could get my amateur status back." -- John Daly after an 86 in the third round at Las Vegas.