Luke List placed sixth at the Wells Fargo Championship in early May and finished fourth this past weekend at the John Deere Classic.
In between was chaos.
The former Baylor School and Vanderbilt University standout experienced the joy of a growing family when wife Chloe gave birth to a son, Harrison, but List struggled on the course with three straight missed cuts. Then when Harrison went through a health scare that required pediatric ICU, the 36-year-old quickly withdrew from the Travelers and Rocket Mortgage events.
"There has been a lot going on," List said this week. "Charlotte is one of my favorite events, and to play well there was a lot of fun. Whenever you have a good finish, you try to snowball that into some good play. Sometimes that works out, but unfortunately this year I've had some good finishes but haven't been able to continue them. It's been an inconsistent year, and I think that really boils down to the putter more than anything.
"It's been great, though, to have a new addition to our family, and now he's home and healthy."
List ventured to Illinois last week and shot a 5-under-par 66 in Thursday's opening round and was 13-under through two rounds with sole possession of the lead. His 8-under 63 Friday contained seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch.
Such birdie binges don't occur often, and List could not recall such an impressive flurry as a professional.
"I don't think so, but sometimes your personal life can put golf in perspective and get your head clear," List said. "It was nice to come back fresh, and I really did feel fresh. I played two rounds in three weeks, and one of those rounds was a career round. I went out and shot a 58 with a buddy, so I left for the John Deere with some confidence.
"I told myself I would be in contention, and I was lucky enough to be up there. I didn't quite have it on the weekend, but I keep knocking on the door."
List finished 16-under and earned a robust $248,000, and he moved up from 117th to 100th in the FedEx Cup points race. In advancing those 17 spots, List passed the likes of Matt Kuchar, 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott and 2019 U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland.
"I've been on tour for a while now, and the level of competition is the highest it's ever been," List said. "The young guys are way better than they used to be, and there are not as many older guys just comfortable keeping their cards. There are so many good players that you have to keep trying to get better, or else you're going to get left behind.
"It's a testament to the game and how good everybody is now."
List, who had a sixth-place finish at the 2019 PGA Championship, did not qualify for any of the four majors this year. While the sport's elite are vying this week at the British Open, List will be in the field at the Barbasol Championship in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Fellow Baylor School alum Harris English has been able to play all four majors this year due to his performance in last year's FedEx Cup playoffs, which included a runner-up showing to Dustin Johnson at the Northern Trust in Boston, which is the first leg of the playoffs. List is hoping to catch fire in a similar way when the 2021 playoffs begin next month.
"I think a lot of people get caught up in players missing multiple cuts, but you can find something good like I have in my putting, and it gives me a chance to have a good finish," List said. "We play so many events, and you're only expected to be in contention 10 or so times. You would love to make every cut, but that's just not realistic.
"It shows what incredible runs guys like Tiger (Woods) had to make all those cuts in a row. It's tough to make a cut. You can't just be off for nine holes, so to find a little rhythm here would be really exciting. I want to see if I can get in contention in the playoffs and finally make it to Atlanta."
List used a runner-up finish in the Honda Classic and a third-place showing at the RBC Heritage to ascend to a career-high 11th in the FedEx standings during the spring of 2018. While he admits he was swinging and putting a bit better then compared to now, List is looking to build on the experience he gains each passing year.
Of course, those experiences are now not only including Chloe and daughter Ryann but a son as well.
"It's difficult," List said of his increased juggling act, "and I never really understood it until it was real. Fortunately, the PGA Tour has a great day care program, and it's nice to have the family travel, but COVID obviously threw a little bit of a wrench into that. We haven't been able to travel as much with the family together, but we have a lot of support in Augusta, where we live.
"When I'm out on the road, it's nice to have the freedom of knowing Chloe is happy and content, but I'm hoping we're all travelling together soon again once everybody is healthy."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.