When Luke List turned pro in 2007, he began his career in golf with the burden of great expectations.
List, who grew up in North Georgia, enjoyed a successful college career at Vanderbilt, earning All-
America status all four years and was a prominent amateur during that time. He lost in the semifinals of
the USGA Public Links Championship in 2003, was a finalist in the U.S. Amateur in ’04 and was low
amateur in the Masters the next year, while also competing in three U.S. Opens before turning pro. But while fellow Georgians and 2007 college grads Chris Kirk and Roberto Castro made relatively quick
adjustments from college golf, it took List a little while longer to make his mark as a professional.
After an outstanding season on the Web.com Tour in 2012, List was a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2013,
but was back on the Web.com the next season before returning to the PGA Tour in 2016. This time, List
narrowly retained his playing privileges and moved up the ladder last year, finishing the season 50 th in
the FedExCup standings.
List, 33, got off to a solid start in the 2017-18 season, but twice fell back on the weekend after being
among the leaders after 36 holes in South Korea and San Diego.
Following the low score of the day during the second round of last week’s Honda Classic in south Florida,
List again found himself at the top of the leader board midway through the tournament.
This time, however, List did not fall back on the weekend, shooting a third round 66 to take the lead
outright after 54 holes. That propelled List into a 5-man battle for the title on one of the PGA Tour’s
most demanding layouts, with List’s competitors including the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year, a
former major champion and two of the elite players from the European Tour.
Playing in the final group on Sunday with 2017 Player of the Year and PGA Championship winner Justin
Thomas, List more than held his own after getting off a slightly shaky start in the final round.
The two players finished 72 holes tied at 8-under 272, with Thomas winning on the first playoff hole
with a birdie on the par-5 18 th at PGA National.
“Obviously it hurts right now, but I think that when I look back on it, I’ll be proud of the way I hung in,”
List said, “especially the back nine after that slow start on the front. From No. 5 on, I played really nice.”
List missed the fairway on the opening hole after hitting iron off the tee, but managed to save par with a
17-foot putt after hitting his approach shot into a greenside bunker. The putt was one of a number of
clutch par saves on the day for List, who lost his lead after back-to- back bogeys at holes 3 and 4 before
settling down and fighting back.
What List described as a “bad swing” on his long iron approach to the par-5 third found the hazard left
of the green, and he lipped out his par putt on the fourth after missing the green with his approach.
Typically, once players like List, who are looking for their first victories on the PGA Tour, give up their
lead early in the final round, they rarely get it back. But List, who did not have a great track record of
playing particularly well the final day when in contention in a handful of previous opportunities, was not
going to fade away this time.
List saved par at the difficult par-4 sixth after missing the green, and stayed close to the lead with
several more pars to close out his front nine. He carded his first birdie on the long par-5 10 th after a 328-
yard drive, holing an 8-footer to close within one shot of leader Tommy Fleetwood, the No. 1 player on
the European Tour in 2017.
Over the next three holes, List was faced with putts of similar length to the one he holed at the 10 th , and
he did not miss, saving par at 11 and 12 and pulling into a tie for the lead with Fleetwood and Thomas
when he birdied the 13 th after a superb short iron approach from the rough.
List almost got a bad break on the 14 th , when his tee shot with an iron bounded through the fairway,
traveling 305 yards before coming to rest just a few yards from a water hazard. He was able to put his
second shot on the green, but was back in scramble mode on the dangerous par-3 15 th , the start of the
infamous Bear Trap on the Jack Nicklaus designed course.
After his tee shot on 15 found the back left bunker, List holed a 9-footer for par to retain his tie at the
top, and had a chance to take the lead at 16 after a beautiful approach left him with eight feet for birdie.
Thomas had a similar putt, but his birdie try wandered off to the right, while List’s effort broke sharply to
the left at the hole, sending the two to the 17 th still tied.
“I feel like if I had made that, I really would have been able to close the door,” List said.
Both players saved par from the rough after missing the green at the par-3 17 th , and List appeared to
have the advantage after finding the fairway with a big drive on the 18 th while Thomas was forced to lay
up from the rough.
List reached the par 5 in two and two-putted for birdie, but Thomas almost holed his third shot from the
fairway for a matching birdie. While Thomas reached the 18 th green in two in the playoff and made
another birdie, List had to lay up after missing the fairway, and missed his birdie attempt to extend the
playoff to a second hole.
For the tournament, List posted scores of 71-66- 66-69. His 1-over opening round included two birdies
and no bogeys, but he suffered a triple bogey on the par-4 16 th , the middle hole of the Bear Trap, after
driving into a fairway bunker and hitting his second shot into the water.
Both his second and third round scores of 66 began with 3-under 32s on the front nine, and he had just
four bogeys for the tournament on the demanding PGA National layout, one each in the second and
third rounds and two on Sunday, with List shooting 32 on the back nine to gain a spot in the playoff.
Had he won, List would have qualified for this week’s WGC event in Mexico, as well as the 2018 Masters
and 2019 Tournament of Champions. For finishing second, List earned a career-best check of $712,800,
improved from 39 to16 in the FedExCup standings and from124 to 73 in the World Golf Rankings. A
strong showing next week in Tampa could earn him a spot in the upcoming Match Play Championship,
and he can still qualify for this year’s Masters if he can move into the top 50 before the end of March.
Although he has never qualified for the Masters as a pro, List played in the tournament in 2005 as an
amateur and tied for 33 rd . He earned his spot in the field by reaching the finals of the 2004 U.S. Amateur,
where he lost to Ryan Moore. The year before, he lost in the PubLinks semifinals to Vanderbilt
teammate Brandt Snedeker.
List lived in the north Georgia community of Jasper with his parents as a youngster before they moved
to the Chattanooga suburb of Ringgold while he was attending a prep school in the Tennessee city.
After graduating from Vanderbilt in 2007, he competed in that year’s Georgia Open at Champions
Retreat outside Augusta and lost in a playoff to Jeff Hull, currently the women’s golf coach at Furman
and the last Georgia PGA member to win the event.
List spent his first few years as a pro playing primarily on Southeastern mini-tours, enjoying some
success on the defunct eGolf Tour in 2008 before playing well in a handful of tournaments on the
Web.com Tour the next year. List played in the Web.com Tour event in Chattanooga as an amateur in
’06 and tied for 35 th , and earned status on the tour in 2010.
He finished 78 th on the money list in his first full season and improved to 38 th the next year, highlighted
by a tie for second in northern California, where he shot 64 the final day but lost by one to a player who
closed with a 61.
List’s breakthrough year as a pro came in 2012, where he finished fourth on the money list to earn a
promotion to the PGA Tour. After coming from seven shots back after 54 holes to tie for second early
that season in Panama, List shot 16-under 272 to win by two at Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta.
He almost made it back-to- back wins the next week, shooting 65 in the final round at the UGA course in
Athens, but lost by one to Hudson Swafford’s closing 62. He collected a third runner-up finish in Kansas
City, again finishing one back when he shot 67 the final day to a 64 by Shawn Stefani.
List was 163 rd in the FedExCup standings as a PGA rookie in 2013, and struggled in his return to the
Web.com the next year. He placed 64 th in earnings in 2015, but a tie for fifth in a Web.com Finals event
in Columbus, O., was enough to get him back to the PGA Tour for the 2016-17 season.
After retaining his exempt status for 2017-18, List finally began to make his way onto leader boards. He
tied for second in the opposite field event in Mississippi after sharing the lead after 54 holes, tied for
seventh a few weeks later in Mexico and contended in Houston the week before the Masters, closing
with a 68 to tie for third behind Russell Henley.
Prior to his playoff loss in the Honda, List was in contention in South Korea and San Diego going to the
weekend, but placed fifth and 12 th respectively. In his first 11 starts this season, he has finished 26 th or
better seven times, and has put himself in position to make a run at qualifying for the Tour
Championship at East Lake for the first time.
While he displayed an outstanding all-around game in his performance in the Honda, List has been best
known as one of golf’s longest hitters, leading the Web.com Tour in driving distance in 2012 and ’14 and
finishing No. 1 in that category as a PGA Tour rookie in 2013.
List placed seventh and fourth in driving distance his first two seasons back on the PGA Tour, and is
currently fourth with an average of 317 yards per drive. During his breakout season on the Web.com in
2012, he averaged 324 yards per measured drive.