published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Baylor grad Luke List leads Tour money list

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    Luke List, right, conducted a clinic with Bryce Ledford prior to the Catoosa County Special Olympics tournament Monday at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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Luke List is moving targets.

His friend Keegan Bradley owns waterfront property with a buoy in the water that they measured to be 92 yards from the edge of the shore.

List and Bradley started peppering it as target practice for wedge shots with a warehouse of old golf balls that Bradley bought.

Then a phone rang.

A resident on the other side of the water called to complain about the buoy moving a little closer to his property.

It sounded serious at first. But then the caller, fellow golfer Rickie Fowler, laughed to reveal that he was only giving them a hard time.

That's the tale List told a gallery Monday during a clinic before the Catoosa County Special Olympics charity tournament. Then he signed autographs for anybody with a request.

His scribble may be worth something in the future considering he'll be playing on the PGA Tour next year alongside Bradley, Fowler, Bubba Watson and others.

"I've kind of changed my goals," said List, who grew up in Ringgold, played at Baylor School and starred at Vanderbilt. "Where I'm standing now, I'll lock up my PGA Tour card. But by finishing No. 1 on the [Nationwide Tour] money list, you're in every invitational, and that's my goal."

List currently owns that top spot and was named the Nationwide player of the month for April earlier this week. He earned both by winning the South Georgia Classic, then following it with a runner-up finish Sunday at the Stadion Classic in Athens, Ga.

"It was really great to get that first win," said List, who honed his game at Black Creek Club. "It was so much fun. I love being in contention.

"To get that first win was a big step for me."

It's a step that has been five years in the making.

List had a stellar amateur career, including a runner-up finish in the 2004 U.S. Amateur. The combination of his ability to hit 330-yard drives, his skill around the greens and a smile that made him marketable to sponsors.

But he stalled on the Nationwide Tour. He began last year with conditional status until he tied second at the Fresh Express Classic last April which gave him full status throughout the season. List did not finish well enough to earn a promotion through the top 25, and he did not get through PGA Tour qualifying school.

List began this year with full status on the Nationwide, which allowed him to make a plan for the year and set his schedule. He tied for second in Columbia.

Then, finally, he won.

"I think most of us are surprised it's taken this long," said List's swing coach Danny Elkins, who has taught List for 10 years. "Sometimes its just takes time, and he's figured out how to be himself.

"He's got a chance to be great."

That's one reason Elkins has continued working with List, and he's not the only one who can visualize List's potential future.

"I think Luke has all the talent in the world," fellow Vanderbilt star Brandt Snedeker said at the 2011 Masters. "I have no doubt that he'll be out here beating me on Sundays."

The rest of List's 2012 season schedule is full of Nationwide events, unless he qualifies for the U.S. Open or gets a sponsor's exemption into a PGA Tour event.

Finishing the season No. 1 on the Nationwide money list would provide List more opportunities to play next year on the PGA Tour than finishing second would.

That's where he'll certainly meet his fellow Commodore, Snedeker, who won at Torrey Pines earlier this year.

"He hits it so far it's not fair," Snedeker said last year at Augusta. "I don't like playing him too much. But out of 10 times, I'll get him six and he'll beat me four. When he gets out here, it will probably be the other way around."

That's another target for List to shoot for -- winning on the PGA Tour.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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