Vanderbilt alum Luke List comfortable atop developmental golf tour's money list

Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 12:34am

Luke List plays with a purpose and swings with no fear.

The longest hitter on the Tour, a former Vanderbilt standout, is a lock to land on the PGA Tour next year. He hasn’t been at golf’s highest level in two years, and, honestly, he hasn’t been too concerned about it.

“To stay out there [on the PGA Tour], I don’t really look at it like that. I’m not afraid of losing my card,” List said. “I’m just looking forward to competing for championships out there.”

The 27-year-old is closing in on a title – one that would seal a spot on the PGA Tour.

Heading into this weekend’s News Sentinel Open at the Fox Den Country Club in Knoxville, List leads the Tour money list with $309,196. Being in the top 25, which is all but guaranteed with nine tournaments left, earns him a 2013 PGA Tour card.

Finishing on top of the money list makes him exempt for most invitationals, including the Players Championship, and he doesn’t have to worry about battling fellow rookies to keep his spot on the PGA Tour.

“No. 1 is a big deal and that’s what I’m chasing,” List said. “I’ve always felt my game is suited for the PGA Tour. I love the atmosphere. I love the fans. That’s the pinnacle of golf for all of us and we’re chasing it. I feel good about the progress I’ve made this year and I’m looking forward to next year, moving up to the next level and getting out there on the big tour.”

List is on the back end of his third year on the Tour, which up until two months ago was known as the Nationwide Tour or the PGA’s developmental tour. While he averages a tour-high 328 yards off the tee, he also credits putting and consistency for his breakout year.

He won his first professional tournament in April at the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, Ga. He has placed in the top 10 six times and has finished twice three times, including at last weekend’s Midwest Classic in Kansas.

“I think all the good players play well when they’re playing well,” List said. “But it’s when you’re not feeling well, when you’re not playing your best, they still find a way to score. That’s what the great players do. Their off days are just a little bit better. That’s what I’m working on is trying to make my bad days a little bit better and a little more consistent; just keeping a good attitude out there.”

List, who was born in Seattle but lived in Georgia and went to high school in Chattanooga, was a model of consistency during his four years of Vanderbilt. The former All-American averaged a score of 71.97 per 18 holes, which is still the program's lowest career scoring average in the last 20 years.

Though he now resides in Jupiter, Fla., he has continued to keep tabs on the program. He even offered insight during the Commodores’ recent coaching search, which ended in June with the hiring of former Alabama assistant Scott Limbaugh.

“I spoke to him on the phone the other day for the first time. I’ve never met him in person,” said List, who graduated in 2007. “I got to talk to him a little bit and I really like the direction they’re headed with the program. So I think that will be a huge step. It might take a few years but I think he’s really going to be really good for the program.”

List helped keep Vanderbilt on the national stage in 2005. He represented the Commodores well when he finished second at the U.S. Amateur Championship just two years after current PGA Tour standout Brandt Snedeker graduated. That earned him a spot in the Masters, where made the cut and tied for 33rd.

But getting back to that level – he’s played in 11 PGA events and four majors – has been difficult. List isn’t discouraged. He looks at golfers who have paid their dues and have recently tasted success – such as Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker – and realizes time is on his side.

“These guys are in their mid-30s, early 40s that are having a lot of success,” List said. “I’m still 27 years old. It took me a few years to get there and I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my professional career. I’m excited to be at that level next year and I’ve got a lot of goals. I’ve got a lot of high expectations for myself and I won’t just settle for just keeping my card out there. I want to go and win.”