My First Open - Memories of Dad not far away for emotional List
Standing on the first tee at The Open is a powerful feeling for any player but for Luke List it may just be the most emotional moment of his career.
Twelve years ago, aged 21, the American first visited Scotland for the Palmer Cup before touring round with his parents, witnessing links golf for the first time during trips to Gullane and North Berwick.
He quickly fell in love with it all. The beautiful courses, the mean weather and the tranquil atmosphere meant links golf quickly had List under a spell and it became his dream to play in The Open.
That was shared by his dad Mark, a links golf enthusiast who passionately showed his son a different style from the traditional courses back home.
However, a mixture of injury and loss of form hampered List’s progress, before his dad’s sudden death three years ago presented the greatest challenge.
But now married and with a first child on the way, List, 33, is enjoying the best year of his career and he went close to a first PGA Tour win at the Honda Classic – only to miss out in a play-off to Justin Thomas.
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However, his strong season has resulted in a first Open appearance and since arriving in Scotland last week he has been re-visiting the sites he first saw with his dad, along with his wife Chloe.
So when it comes down to business on Thursday admits that when he stands on the first tee, where the ball actually goes will not be at the forefront of his mind.
“Dad loved this type of golf. He just loved Scottish golf,” said List.
“He used to talk about it a lot and tell me lots of stories, so it is nice to be here and remember him in this way.“It will be very emotional next Thursday. It is hard not to be emotional being in Scotland but to me it is all smiles because it is all memories.
“I would love to have my dad around but I know he is smiling.
“We came to Scotland a dozen years ago and we were in Gullane and Berwick. It was such great fun to tour around and see the courses.
“Just to remember the times we had here were very special. At Gullane last week, I went into the clubhouse after the Scottish Open and saw where we had a beer together. It’s nice to remember.”
Being at Carnoustie may drum up plenty of emotions but as soon as List’s ball lands for the first time on Thursday, it’s time to get down to business.
The American arrives in fine form after a tied-third finish at the Scottish Open, with a first-round 63 equalling the Gullane course record and he is determined not to make up the numbers.
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“I am feeling good and my game is good. I think my tendency has been to over-prepare for majors and my old self would have driven up straight after the Scottish and played 18 on the Monday,” he added.
“But this is my first Open so I will relax and then play the course on Tuesday.
“The conditions are really firm and the forecast is really good too so that is nice. My wife is kicking me because I told her to pack all of this cold, wet-weather stuff and now we are here and we are in shorts all day.”
List will know that, although the sun cream may be out, Carnoustie has a habit of getting its own back - with wind and rain due to test the field on Friday.
But the Seattle golfer has been watching this tournament since he was a boy and is prepared for everything this course can throw at him.
“I always remember as a kid we used to wake up and watch the coverage on a Thursday and Friday morning with Ian Baker-Finch on TV,” he said.
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“I can’t wait to get out there and play my first Open. A couple of Americans have made it their one and only win, so the links has always fascinated us in the USA.
“I love it. I feel very comfortable on it, I feel if you can strike it well enough then the course will always reward that and I think my game stacks up.”
Whatever List achieves this week, his first Open will certainly live long in the memory.
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