SAN DIEGO—Luke List knew he had a long wait coming after he finished his impressive final round eight groups ahead of the other leaders, so he fetched a cookie to occupy his 3-year-old daughter when he settled down to watch from the Torrey Pines dining room with his family.
Two hours later in the California gloaming, List secured an even better treat for little Ryann List.
“She’s been telling me for a long time, ‘Daddy, I want a trophy,’” List said. “And I finally got one.”
List earned his first PGA Tour victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole Saturday, holding off Will Zalatoris well after sunset to win the Farmers Insurance Open.
List began the final round five shots back of leaders Zalatoris and Jason Day, but made seven birdies in a 6-under 66. He had to exercise his patience and preparedness before learning if he had a shot to win in his 206th tour start.
“I really believed I could win on this course, and it’s just amazing that that came true,” the 37-year-old List said. “I told myself if I was in a playoff, I was going to make birdie.”
His PGA Tour career began in 2013, six years after he turned pro out of Vanderbilt, but was quickly interrupted by a two-year trip back to what was then the Web.com Tour.
“You wonder if it’s going to be your turn,” List said. “But I truly believe I found something this last six, eight months of golf. I’ve worked so hard with my coach and I’ve done all the right things. I’ve got an amazing team that supports me.”
Zalatoris missed the chance to secure his own first career victory when he barely missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th. After both players rescued their errant playoff tee shots from a fairway bunker, List spun an exceptional 131-yard wedge approach shot to within a foot of the cup.
After List tapped in and Zalatoris missed his 13-foot birdie putt, List celebrated with his wife, Chloe, who held 7-month-old Harrison while List held Ryann. List thinks his daughter might be interested in trophies because she believes they contain candy, but the Farmers trophy is a replica of the endangered Torrey pine tree.
“This doesn’t look like you can fit any candy in here,” List said with a laugh while eyeing his new sculpture. “But she was happy. She said, ‘Oh, flowers!’”
Zalatoris and List finished regulation at 15-under 273, setting up the fourth playoff in the last 11 years at the Farmers. Zalatoris shot a nervy final-round 71, finishing with 12 straight pars.
Zalatoris, last season’s Rookie of the Year and Masters runner-up, will lament his final shot of regulation. The 8-footer left his putter straight, but slowed and hopped abruptly to the left in the final inches.
“I fought like hell all day,” Zalatoris said. “I was more disappointed with what I left out there in the second and third round. I thought today I battled really well. The putt I hit on the 72nd hole, I thought I made it. I just needed a hair more speed.”
Top-ranked Jon Rahm, Day and Cameron Tringale finished a shot back at 14 under, and Justin Rose was in a group of five players two shots back.
List, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, also punched his ticket to the Masters for the first time as a pro. He played there in 2005 after earning the spot as the runner-up in the 2004 U.S. Amateur.
List made four straight birdies on the front nine, but he really got rolling when he holed out of the bunker from 36 feet on the 12th.
With Zalatoris barely approaching the turn, List took a share of the lead at 15 under with a short birdie putt on the 16th, but then he missed a 4-foot par putt on the 17th before finishing with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
The tournament ended on Saturday to avoid a television conflict with the NFL’s two conference championship games on Sunday. The leaders appeared to be headed for a Sunday finish anyway for much of the final round, thanks to the crowded leaderboard and the slow pace of play that raised the chances of a playoff that couldn’t be resolved before sunset on the North San Diego coast.
The finish aside, Zalatoris’ career is surging after he finished in a sixth-place tie at The American Express last week. The 25-year-old Texan who played at Wake Forest on an Arnold Palmer scholarship had a steady final round—even if his 12th straight par was a heartbreaker.
Other contenders surged and faded behind Zalatoris all day. Most compellingly, two-time Torrey Pines winner Rahm was one shot off the lead when he missed a 14-foot par putt on the 15th. After he buried a 26-foot birdie putt on the 17th, he left a 17-foot birdie putt short on the 18th with a chance to rejoin the leaders.
Day leaped into a share of the lead with an eagle on the 14th, holing out from 118 yards by dropping it past the pin with a sublime backspin that took it straight in.
By Greg Beacham