VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Luke List was right -- it was his time and his week. The former Vanderbilt standout thought things might be different at this week’s South Georgia Classic, and four days later his premonition came true when he walked off the 18th green with his first career Nationwide Tour win.
List hovered near the top of the leaderboard all week, and fired a 4-under 68 Sunday at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club to distance himself from a host of challengers and collect the champion’s crystal and a check for $112,500.
“It feels fantastic,” he said, surrounded by his parents, grandparents, girlfriend and others. “It’s hard to describe. I really put my head down, especially on the weekend. I knew where I was all day and it was nice to perform under the pressure. Hopefully this will be a turning point for me and I can get a few more this year.”
List wound up at 16-under 272, two better than Michigan’s Brian Stuard (66). Three-time PGA Tour winner Woody Austin shared the 54-hole lead with List, but failed to muster a charge and shot a 73 to wind up solo third, five back.
Justin Hicks (67), Richard Scott (70) and Robert Streb (70) shared fourth place at 10 under, six off the pace.
Will MacKenzie, in the next-to-last group, briefly took the lead at 15 under with a birdie at No. 10, but then gave three shots back on his next two holes to fall out of contention. A triple bogey at No. 18 dropped him into a tie for seventh.
Sunday’s finale appeared to be a four-man race with List, MacKenzie, Austin and Stuard, who posted a bogey-free 66 and was 30 minutes in front of the final pairing.
“I figured I needed one more after the birdie at 16,” said Stuard, who moved to 14 under at the time. “I left some shots out there yesterday so I tried to play a good round today. It was fun. I can’t complain.”
Neither can List, who used his newly-tweaked Callaway driver to overpower the 7,781-yard course, the longest on tour.
“This course sets up so well for me that I just told myself to stay out of your way and do the right things,” said List, who averaged 329 yards off the tee and ended the week No. 1 in the category. “Out here with my length I just had so many opportunities. This is a long course but I had a lot of wedges where I could give myself those 15- to 20-footers. I never felt stressed out there.”
List was rock solid during his pressure-packed weekend -- he hit 17 greens on Saturday and 16 on Sunday. He needed birdies on his first two holes Sunday just to keep pace, but then the putts refused to fall and he settled for nine straight pars. Fortunately, the lead was never far away.
List three-putted the 12th hole to drop to 13 under and tied with Stuard and Austin, with MacKenzie one back.
Things turned for good at the 657-yard 13th when List blistered a 3-hybrid from 260 yards to within six feet. He then rolled in the eagle -- one of only two registered all day -- to retake the lead at minus-15. Another birdie at 16 put him up by two.
Stuard was already in the house at 14 under and Austin and MacKenzie couldn’t make up the ground. A final booming drive at the uphill, 484-yard 18th left List with 139 yards to the pin.
“I told myself to aim right. I knew it was going to jump and I was a little amped up,” he said after hitting a lob wedge pin-high and 30 feet from the pin. “I was nervous on the putt but I cozied it up there.”
Two putts later, List raised his arms in triumph for the first time in his three years on the Nationwide Tour.
“I can’t say I didn’t expect it,” he said. “I hope it’s the beginning of a couple more.”
With his winner’s check List moved from No. 13 to No. 2 on the money list with $175,448.
Duffy Waldorf put together another solid week, shooting 67 in the final round to finish tied for 11th. Waldorf remains No. 20 on the money list, thanks in large part to a tie for second two weeks ago at the weather-plagued TPC Stonebrae Championship.
Waldorf turns 50 in August and admits he’s looking forward to playing Champions Tour events, but in the meantime he’ll play a full schedule.
“It’s kind of hard to turn down a PGA TOUR event if you’re in it,” he said. “If I get in, I’ll play. If I don’t, I’ll play on the Nationwide Tour. I’m looking at my schedule in June, July and August. I’ll take a couple of weeks off but if I don’t play there then I’ll play here. It’ll probably work out to about 50-50.”
Waldorf is working his way back after missing most of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons due to several physical issues, including multiple knee surgeries.
“When you take three years off you just want to play,” he said. “My game suffered but it’s starting to come around. I feel a lot better now than I have in a long time.”
Waldorf, who has had four knee surguries, has shown solid form in his nine combined Tour starts and has made six cuts this season.
“I’m glad that I have the Nationwide Tour as a place to play,” he said. “It’s very exciting to play out here. I really like the courses. I like making birdies. My putting is really starting to come around. It’s good competition out here. It’s just like a (PGA) Tour event.”
--Skip Kendall withdrew prior to the start of the fourth round. Kendall receives last-place money of $1,594 for making the cut but money is “unofficial” and will not count on the 2012 Nationwide Tour money list.
--Brian Stuard’s runner-up effort vaulted him from No. 29 to No. 8 on the money list.
--Woody Austin’s solo third place was worth $42,500 and jumped him from No. 55 to No. 17 on the money list.
--Aaron Goldberg had a new course record in his sights before stumbling on the final two holes. Goldberg was 6 under through 10 holes and 8 under after 16 and needed only a birdie on one of last two holes to set a new course mark. Four players have posted 8-under 64s over the years, including Woody Austin on Saturday. Goldberg finished bogey/double bogey for a 5-under 67. He tied for 20th place.
--The Nationwide Tour will move to Athens next week for the Stadion Classic at UGA. The tournament will be held at the University of Georgia Golf Course April 30-May 6.