Luke List creates PGA Tour memory to 'smile about forever'

Luke List hits his third shot on the 15th hole of the South Course during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Luke List needed nearly 15 years to win his first PGA Tour event after turning pro.

Naturally, the former Baylor School and Vanderbilt University standout would like to have tasted victory much, much sooner, but there was an obvious upside to Saturday's long-awaited triumph in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. It came in the form of a victory party that included wife Chloe, 3-year-old daughter Ryann and 7-month-old son Harrison.

"The best part was having them there and being able to share the excitement and all the hard work with them in that moment," List said Monday afternoon. "I couldn't imagine it any other way. It really was a storybook ending for that chapter. My first win was at Torrey Pines with my family and with Ryann old enough to share in it and understand it a little bit.

"I'm just super blessed to have that be the first one, and I can't imagine it any other way now."

List's first PGA Tour title was accompanied by $1,512,000 in earnings and 500 FedEx Cup points, which vaulted the 37-year-old to fourth in this season's race behind Hideki Matsuyama, Talor Gooch and Sungjae Im. It also resulted in a new world ranking of No. 56 - fellow Baylor School alums Harris English and Keith Mitchell are 19th and 87th, respectively, in the world this week - and an invitation to the Masters in early April.

It will be the second Masters appearance for List, who lives in Augusta and finished tied for 33rd in the 2005 event, when he was a Vanderbilt sophomore.

"Someone told me earlier today that this will be the second-longest time between Masters," List said. "I think Bruce Fleisher was 23 years in between, so this will be the second-longest ever. It's pretty funny, and it's a great stat, but I'm ecstatic to be going back there. It is tough to live here and not be in the field, but it is what it is.

"There are so many great players who play their whole lives without this opportunity. Part of the allure to me of that whole place with the history and everything is that I think I can actually contend and win there."

If this past Saturday was any indication, List will be ready for whatever challenges arise on golf's biggest stage.

photo Luke List kisses his wife Chloe after winning the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Beginning the final round five strokes off the lead shared by Jason Day and Will Zalatoris, List shot 4-under on the front nine on his way to a closing 6-under 66. List had produced a closing 66 last year at Torrey Pines to finish in a tie for 10th, and a 13-foot birdie putt on the 18th Saturday resulted in a 15-under 273 for the tournament.

"I didn't know if that was for a high finish or to be in a playoff," List said of his final stroke in regulation, "but I knew it was a big putt."

List was eight groups ahead of the leaders when he posted the 273, so he hung out with his family before going back out to warm up in the event of a playoff. Nearly two hours passed before the playoff pairing with List and Zalatoris was set, with Zalatoris missing an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th for the outright win.

"The reaction of the crowd tells it all," List said, "and when (Jon) Rahm birdied 17, I was like, 'Here we go again.' He birdied those last two at the U.S. Open (last year at Torrey Pines), and I was fully confident that he was going to birdie 18. Obviously him making par was not pleasing to him, but it worked in my favor.

"I saw the putt that Will hit, and it looked like he hit a good putt. It looked like it broke weird or lost speed at the end. It's a tricky place to read, and I was glad I didn't hit it into that area in the playoff."

The closest List had come to victory on the PGA Tour before Saturday was at the 2018 Honda Classic, when he lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas. He has no doubt going through that experience helped against Zalatoris.

"I just tried to stay positive and told myself that this was my time in a playoff," he said. "When I took the shuttle back, there was a big crowd, and it was really exciting, but it was just different from the last playoff I was in. I knew what to expect, and I just had a nice calmness about me.

"I just wanted to make birdie and handle my business."

List and Zalatoris were inches apart in a bunker after their tee shots and just feet apart in the fairway following their second shots. Then List placed a 131-yard wedge approach within a foot of the cup.

"TV didn't show how dark it really was, and I couldn't see how close it was," List said. "I was obviously excited to finally see it."

When asked if that was the biggest shot of his career, List said, "It has to be."

Zalatoris placed his approach 13 feet from the hole and missed his putt, clinching the win for List and resulting in Chloe bringing their children to the edge of the green for a first career victory hug.

"Obviously Ryann stole the show, as she always does, but having her and Harrison and my wife there meant everything to me," List said. "We had a fun couple of weeks on the West Coast as a family. There are challenges travelling with two young kids, but I wouldn't change it for the world, especially with that outcome.

"That's a memory we'll all be able to share and smile about forever."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

photo CORRECTS TO SATURDAY, JAN. 29 NOT FRIDAY, JAN. 28 - Luke List hits his third shot on the 15th hole of the South Course during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, Saturday Jan. 29, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)