Ex-Illini Guthrie in driver's seat at Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Rory McIlroy left before his round was over. Tiger Woods had to rally just to stick around.
And with all that drama Friday in the Honda Classic, hardly anyone noticed that former Illini Luke Guthrie showed off his potential in a big way with a 7-under-par 63 to take a 1-shot lead going into the weekend at PGA National.
Guthrie, pegged by many of his peers as a rookie worth watching going into the year, played bogey-free on another cool, cloudy day.
Of his seven birdies, perhaps the most impressive for the Big Ten champion from Illinois came on the sixth hole when he had mud on the side of his ball and was able to work the shot in from the right to about 10 feet.
After finishing his round, he walked into an interview room when someone mentioned that McIlroy walked off the course after being 7 over through eight holes.
“I had no clue,” Guthrie said. “I was just kind of going about my business out there.”
He was at 9-under 131 and had a 1-shot lead on Michael Thompson. Former Illini D.A. Points (71) was at 138, and Scott Langley (73) totaled 145 and missed the cut.
McIlroy, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship in his previous two starts, made a double bogey on his second hole and rinsed two balls in the water on the 16th hole on his way to a triple bogey.
He hit his approach to the 18th in the water and never finished the hole.
He shook hands with Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and was on his way, but not before conflicting messages.
McIlroy told three reporters who followed him to his car that it was nothing physical but that he was “not in a good place mentally.”
An hour later, he released a statement through his management company that he couldn’t concentrate because of a sore wisdom tooth.
Woods looked as if he might join him. After mixing birdies with bogeys, Woods went bunker-to-bunker, over the green, short of the green and wound up with a double bogey on the 13th hole that put him a shot under the cut line with five holes to play.
Instead of the second straight week when No. 1 and No. 2 were gone early, Woods answered with a shot into 5 feet for birdie, a 6-foot par putt on the 16th hole, a par save from the back bunker on the 17th that was easier than it looked, and a par save from near the grandstand by the 18th green that was harder than it looked.
He wound up with another 70 to make the cut on the number, 9 shots out of the lead.