Luke List isn’t exactly a grizzled veteran, but the 27-year-old figures he’s been around the Nationwide Tour long enough that maybe it’s his time. List has yet to win, but is in position to rectify that after grabbing the second-round lead at the South Georgia Classic on Friday.
List added a 4-under 68 to his opening 67 and stands alone on the 36-hole leaderboard at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. His 9-under 135 total is one shot better than Michigan’s Brian Stuard (69) and two in front of Will MacKenzie (67) and a pair of Monday qualifiers, Ryan Zabroske ((67) and Sihwan Kim (70).
“I’m not frustrated. I’ve been looking forward to this year,” said List, who is in his third full season. “I’ve been out here a few years now and I feel like I’m one of the better players out here now and it’s my time. I really feel that way. I’m just trying to be confident and go from there.”
List has been going in the right direction since his graduation from Vanderbilt in 2007. He made eight starts in 2009 and finished No. 159 on the money list. The next year he cut that in half and ended up No. 78 with six top-25 finishes. Last year, he again cut his number in half and wound up No. 38 with nine top-25 finishes, including a runner-up at the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae.
This year, List has another tie for second at the Panama Claro Championship and a tie for ninth at the Soboba Golf Classic and entered the week No. 13 on the money list.
“I have gotten off to a good start this year and played well on the courses that have been tough,” said List. “It’s been pretty consistent so far. I’d like to drive it a little straighter and hit the ball a little bit better but the putting has been pretty good.”
This week, it’s more of the same.
List has hit 19 of 28 fairways (67.9%) and just 23 of 36 greens (66.7%), but it’s been his work on the greens that have vaulted him into the lead for the first time in any of his 72 career starts.
List has one-putted19 times in two days and knocked another in from off the green. His 51 total putts has him tied for first in that category.
“The greens are awesome. I’ve been doing a good job of leaving myself in pretty good spots,” he said. “Out here when they tuck the pins, if you short-side yourself it’s pretty tough to get up and down.”
Stuard has one-putted 14 times already but his stats are a little misleading. He hit 17 greens in regulation during his 3-under 69 on Friday, but didn’t know that until a reporter informed him of his stats.
“I guess I wasn’t paying attention and maybe that’s good,” he said with a chuckle. “I guess I’ve done a good job of that this week. I didn’t realize I hit that many. Now that I think about it, I didn’t chip very much today.”
Monday qualifier Kim is making only his second career start on the Nationwide Tour, after tying for sixth at the 2008 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Kim, the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion, received a sponsor’s invitation after being named a First-Team All-America during his freshman year at Stanford. He graduated from Stanford last year and is headed to Europe in two weeks to play on the Challenge Tour for several months.
Kim played in a mini-tour event in Greensboro, NC, last week and decided to try and qualify for this event.
“I didn’t have anything to do and I had two weeks before I was leaving for Europe,” he said. “I thought it would be good practice,”
Next week Kim has a local qualifier for the U.S. Open and says even if he finishes top-25 this week and gains a spot in the Stadion Classic at UGA it will be hard to turn down a possible chance to return to the Olympic Club in San Francisco, where he won as a teenager. Kim became the second-youngest player (behind Tiger Woods) to win the Junior Amateur.
--Martin Piller withdrew due to illness. Justin Searles withdrew during the round due to a wrist injury. Shawn Koch withdrew during the round due to illness.
--A total of 69 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at even-par 144. This is the second straight year the cut has been at even par.
--Veteran Paul Claxton (73-71) made the cut this week, keeping a perfect 7-for-7 thus far this season. Claxton, of Vidalia, Ga., has a pair of top-3 finishes and four top-25s in his previous six starts this year. He is at even-par 144 and tied for 54th heading into the weekend. Claxton is No. 6 on the money list.
--Five of the six tournament winners in 2012 are entered this week. Only Panama Claro Championship winner Edward Loar is missing from Valdosta. Loar is competing at this week’s PGA Tour stop, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.