published Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Former Baylor star Luke List closer to Masters return

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    Luke List watches the ball at the Chattanooga Classic golf tournament, hosted by the Black Creek Club. Staff File Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jason Day exited the Augusta National media center with his agent Terry Reilly following close behind after Day tied for second in this year’s Masters.

“Boy, it would be nice to get Luke List back here next year,” said Reilly, who also represents the former Baylor School star.

List played in the 2005 Masters following his runner-up finish to Ryan Moore in the U.S. Amateur in 2004.

“So much has happened since then that it feels like an eternity,” Moore said after this year’s Masters. “Golf is a funny game. There is nothing given to you.

“No matter how good you are, at some point you have to keep earning it all the way up.”

List is one step closer today to driving down Magnolia Lane than he was two weeks ago.

He earned full status on the Nationwide Tour for the rest of the season thanks to his highest finish as a professional, when he tied for second at the Fresh Express Classic a week and a half ago. He played on the Nationwide last year but lost his full status and failed to advance from the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School by one stroke.

“Terry has never wavered once,” List said this week. “He’s been instrumental in lining up my goals. That’s where I need to be next year — Augusta — and I see the possibility is there.”

List shared runner-up honors on April 17 when heavy fog in the San Francisco area forced the cancellation of the final round because the leaders couldn’t finish. Saturday’s standings became official with List one shot back.

He earned more than $52,000, which rocketed him to No. 8 on the Nationwide money list through four events. The top 25 at the end of the year play on the PGA Tour next year — with an outside shot at Augusta.

“Although I would have loved to finish, I learned a lot from those seven or eight holes on Sunday,” said List, who switched to a belly-putter for the first time and will use it this week in the South Georgia Classic at Valdosta. “I had a lot to deal with — the PGA sends you texts with updates, and they were going crazy — and being in a position to win on Sunday. It’s nice to put all that in my memory bank.”

It’s also nice to know where he will be playing each week and not relying on sponsors or a good finish in one-day Monday qualifiers. It adds to the comfort List has been experiencing all season since moving into a condo with 2007 NCAA champion Jamie Lovemark in Jupiter, Fla., by the Dye Preserve Golf Club.

“Several guys were chirping in my ear about how nice it is to live in Florida, and it’s like a feeding frenzy here,” List said while driving to Valdosta. “There’s a good game every day here with guys like Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino, Ryan Armour — a lot of young guys.

“We’re always doing something crazy or fun.”

The 2007 Vanderbilt graduate also has been listening to the only other Vandy grad in professional golf — Brandt Snedeker, who won The Heritage on Sunday.

“I think Luke has all the talent in the world, and I have no doubt that he’ll be out here beating me on Sundays,” Snedeker said in Augusta. “It’s fun trying to help him along and get him off the Nationwide Tour and on the PGA Tour where he belongs.”

Snedeker and List have kept in touch despite being on different tours and will attempt to play together at Commodore Golf Day on May 9.

“He hits it so far, it’s not fair. I don’t like playing him too much,” Snedeker said. “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.”

List has to get there first. Finishing in a tie for second is a professional achievement. It’s a step to winning, which is a huge rung on the money list ladder leading to the PGA Tour.

“Like they say about the best guys to never win a major: Once they do, they win a bunch,” said 2002 U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes. “It took Phil [Mickelson] a long time to win one, then he got a bunch. That’s kind of how building from the Nationwide Tour to the PGA Tour is.”

List said he’d like to build on his Bay Area finish, especially in the next two weeks with the South Georgia Classic followed by a tournament in Athens, Ga. That’s two weeks at two comfortable courses that aren’t too far from the Ringgold home where he spent his teen years — or Augusta.

“It’s been six years now,” List said. “That’s the greatest place on earth.

“I need to do whatever it takes to get back there.”

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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