SAN DIEGO — Luke List earned his first PGA Tour victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Torrey Pines on 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, and had to wait nearly two hours after closing with a 6-under 66 to see if he had a shot for the first win in a career that began in 2013.
“I really believed I could win on this course, and it’s a dream come true,” List said. “I told myself if I was in a playoff, I was going to make birdie.”
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, forcing a playoff. After both players rescued their errant playoff tee shots from a fairway bunker, List spun an exceptional 131-yard approach shot to within a foot of the cup.
After List tapped in and Zalatoris missed his 13-foot birdie putt, List celebrated in the gloaming with his wife, Chloe, while he held their daughter, Ryann.
“She’s been telling me for a long time, ‘Daddy, I want a trophy,’ and I finally got one,” List said after breaking through in his 206th tour start.
Zalatoris and List finished regulation at 15-under 273, setting up the fourth playoff in the past 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.”
List joined Rahm as the only players to earn their first career wins at the Farmers Open.
After starting the final round five shots back of the co-leaders, List shot up the crowded board with a 66 that included seven birdies. Playing eight groups ahead of Zalatoris, 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 badly missed a 4-foot par putt on the 17th.
And after finishing with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 18th, he settled in to wait. List chatted with his family in the dining room and even fetched a cookie for Ryann before warming up in the fading California sun.
List, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, also punched his ticket to the Masters for the first time as a pro. He played in 2005 after earning the spot as the runner-up in the 2004 U.S. Amateur.
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 into the hole.