Baylor graduate Luke List eager to build off best career showing

Luke List watches his shot from the 17th tee at PGA National during the first round of the Honda Classic last Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. List, a former Ringgold, Ga., resident who starred at the Baylor School, finished second in the tournament, losing a playoff to Justin Thomas on Sunday.

Luke List is not lacking for incentive after last weekend's runner-up finish to Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic.

Especially with the start of the Masters just five weeks from today.

The former Baylor School and Vanderbilt University golfer would have qualified for the year's first major had he topped Thomas in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., but List still has other avenues to earn an invitation to Augusta National.

"Last year was one of the better years in my career, if not the best, and I was still disappointed," List said this week, "because I put in a lot of hard work and still didn't get to play in the Masters. Coming into the beginning of this 2017-18 season, I really made that a priority.

"I'm trying to think more about the immediate effort right now than the end results, because I think the good things will take care of themselves."

List still can qualify for the Masters by winning a tournament this month, with his next opportunity next week's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. He also can qualify by being in the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking the week the Masters starts. Sunday's finish at PGA National vaulted him from No. 124 to No. 73.

At last year's Valspar Championship, List tied for 27th along with fellow Baylor grad Harris English. A third former Red Raider, Keith Mitchell, tied for 11th.

List's motivation is matched by his confidence after his most impressive performance as a professional.

"It's hard not to see that as one of the best tournaments I've ever played in my career, especially under the circumstances and the golf course," he said. "That had all the makings of a major championship with the course and the field and the conditions, and to perform at that high of a level and have that consistency for four days out on the course is something I'm very pleased with.

"There is still a little bit of a bad aftertaste, but there were a lot of good things to take from the whole week. I'm definitely looking back at more of the good things for sure."

The most promising aspect of List's showing may have been how he rebounded Sunday afternoon after bogeying the third and fourth holes and falling two shots back of Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Webb Simpson and Thomas.

"It felt like it slipped away a little bit on the first four holes," List said, "and we didn't realize at the time that Justin hit a shot on the par-3 that hit off the rocks and bounced in there close. You start to think, 'This might not be my time,' but I fought through that, stayed positive and just really tried to give my best effort on every shot.

"The birdie on 10 got me back in it, and from there I felt pretty focused on the golf tournament and was not worrying about what everyone else was doing. If I would have made the birdie putt on 16, that may have shut the door, but it didn't go in. I just know that I'll be back in that situation soon."

List earned $712,800 at the Honda Classic but said he did not splurge. His Sunday night consisted of "a couple of sushi rolls and a couple of beers" with his wife and his caddie, and List said he was in bed by 10.

Since flying back home to California on Monday, List has enjoyed decompressing this week after the most publicized appearance and biggest payday of his career.

"The money is nice, and it's an amazing perk that we benefit from," said List, who was a guest of "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM. "That's all thanks to Tiger (Woods), really, but I'm the position now where I'm really playing for trophies. That's my motivation, to get in contention again and try to win."

List, one of the game's longest hitters, is also moving forward having been labeled "The Big Smooth" by CBS analyst Jim Nantz on Sunday.

"That's not a terrible nickname," List said, laughing. "It's pretty funny, I guess, but I hope that doesn't stick."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.