The Valdosta Daily Times
Luke List wanted to give his dad a birthday present he would never forget.
The 27-year old List did just that Sunday afternoon, winning the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Company by two strokes over Brian Stuard.
List tied 2011 champion Ted Potter Jr for the lowest score in the tournament’s history, finishing at 16-under par. The win was List’s first of his career, becoming the fifth winner in the Classic’s six-year history to earn his first career victory at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.
“It feels fantastic,” said List, who was presented with a check for $112,500 following Sunday’s round. “It is hard to describe. People always say ‘It really hasn’t sunk in yet,’ and I think that is the case. I really put my head down, especially on the weekend, and I knew kind of where I was all day, and it was nice to be able to perform under the pressure.
“I never really felt stressed out there,” List continued. “As far as I was not making as many putts as I would like, but I kept saying ‘it is okay because I am hitting it great and I am giving myself a lot of great opportunities.’ ”
Playing in the final group on a Sunday for the first time in his career, List got off to a hot start, birding the first two holes he saw on the day to move to 14-under par, which put him in a tie for the lead with Will MacKenzie, who birdied four of his five holes to move atop the leaderboard. MacKenzie later bogeyed No. 11, double bogeyed No. 12 and tripled bogeyed No. 18 to finish tied for seventh.
Following pars to close out the front nine and on Nos. 10 and 11, List ran into trouble on No. 12, posting a bogey that dropped him from the lead and put him at 13-under par.
“I was patient all day, and I got off to a great start, which was my goal for the week,” List said. “So it was nice to do that on the first two holes — it gave me some confidence. But kind of in the middle of my round, I was just kind of making pars, not really doing anything wrong, just none of the putts were falling, and then I actually three-putted on 12 — that hole had my number all week.”
Just prior to List’s bogey, Stuard was able to sink a birdie putt on No. 13, which moved into a share of the lead with five holes remaining. Following his birdie, Stuard pared Nos. 14 and 15, before birding No. 16. Unfortunately for him, at the same time his birdie putt went in, List was sinking an eagle putt on No. 13, which moved him to 15-under par, and in sole possession of the lead. Stuard was unable to catch List as he ran out of holes.
List’s eagle on No. 13 was set up by a long tee shot, which was one of the many he had on Sunday and throughout the week, and a hybrid shot from 260 yards out that put him just 6-feet away on the green.
“I hit two great shots on 13 for eagle there,” List said. “That was the turnaround. After that, I knew I could come through down the stretch.”
From there, List regained his momentum and was able to birdie Nos. 14 and 15 before sinking a birdie putt on No. 16, which was set up by a bunker shot that put him less than 6-feet away from the pin on the green.
Following his birdie putt on 16, List was able to par the final two holes of his round to claim the win.
“You never know if the scoreboard is going to be wrong, so I figured par-par,” List said.
The win is List’s first of his career, and he admitted following his round on Sunday that he felt like this was going to be his week to finally break through.
“I told myself all week ‘this is my week, this is my turn,’” List told the media. “And I believed it...I can’t say I didn’t expect this. I hope this is a few of many more.”
The win also places List second on the Nationwide Tour’s money list, which awards the top 25 players a PGA TOUR card at the end of the season.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was to finish No. 1 on the money list,” List said. “Whether I am 1-2-3 or whatever, just to get a win, I think this is going to be a turning point for me and hopefully I get a few more this year.”
List’s week began with a change of sponsors, as he switched from Titleist to Callaway, which he said made a major difference, as the professionals from Callaway gave him a tip on his tee shots and helped make an adjustment on his driver.
Brian Stuard’s second place finish was the best of his career, which earned him just over $67,000. After following out of contention on Saturday with an even par, Stuard fired a 6-under 66, which was bogey free.
For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition.