The anatomy of history
An oral history of Stephan Jaeger's record-setting 58 at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae
September 06, 2016
By Adam Stanley and Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
An oral history of Stephan Jaeger's record-setting 58 at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae
When Stephan Jaeger arrived early in the week at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae just outside of San Francisco, California, he did so without expectations, just a desire to have a good performance.
But calling Jaeger’s performance at the Ellie Mae Classic “good” is like saying the California coast is “nice.”
It’s technically true, but it’s insufficient to capture how magical it truly was.
Jaeger, from Munich, Germany, had conditional status on the Web.com Tour starting the year after finishing 86th on the money list in 2015. He was outside the top 100 (which would have earned him conditional status again for 2017) going into the week of the Ellie Mae Classic and although he had made seven of 10 cuts going into that event, he was having trouble stringing four good rounds together.
That would all change by Sunday night, as the 27-year-old captured the title in record-breaking fashion. His 30-under-par total was better than the next-closest finisher by seven strokes.
And although the end of the week secured a Web.com Tour Finals berth for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga alum, it was his round Thursday that set it all in motion.
By his admission, it was a pedestrian start to the day. But one birdie after another kept falling, and when the dust settled, Stephan Jaeger had shot a 12-under-par 58.
At the time, it was the lowest round ever recorded in a TOUR-sanctioned event (although rounds of 58 had been shot in competitions in Canada and Japan) prior to Jim Furyk’s tremendous Sunday at the Travelers Championship just 10 days later.
But how did he do it?
PGA TOUR Digital spent time with the day’s central characters to tell the story of the greatest round in the history of the Web.com Tour.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Jaeger knew he needed a good week in California, but wasn’t really thinking about a victory going into the Ellie Mae Classic. He just wanted to have a strong finish.
“My position wasn’t great going into the week. I knew the next five weeks needed to be good to even get into The 75 (to secure a Web.com Tour Finals berth); that was the goal,” he recalls. “I needed a top-4 or top-5 finish to get me into the 50th or 60th mark, and take my chances in the Finals to try to play well and get my card that way.”
Jaeger had been able to play well to start tournaments, but had been struggling to play well on the weekends. Those performances resulted in less-than-stellar finishes, despite the fact that he was making cuts.
“The first two rounds were always good for me, because I was so focused on making the cut,” he says. “I think in New York (at the LECOM Health Challenge), I was 12th or 15th going into the weekend and finished 20th. I shot even-par in the last round and you’re kind of moving backwards with that. In Salt Lake City (at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank), I shot 1-over and 2-over on the weekend, and I was moving backwards. I didn’t string those rounds together in a row.”
But Jaeger felt confident about his game. And he was about to find out just how good his game was.
“I wasn’t doing anything differently,” he admits. “I didn’t change anything from the weeks before. I was playing well.”
Jaeger’s mom, Sophie, was enjoying the final week of a four-week stretch on the road with her son. Sophie still resides in their native Germany, and doesn’t get make the trip to the United States often, so Stephan was extra-motivated to put on a good showing for his mom at TPC Stonebrae.
Sophie Jaeger: He had hit the ball very well during the previous three weeks, so I wasn’t too nervous.
Jaeger arrived at TPC Stonebrae late in the morning, in time to eat lunch and go through his warm-up routine. He remembers the whole day very clearly.
Stephan Jaeger: I remember everything, which is kind of crazy. I’ve been in a rhythm, in the zone, and you can’t really remember what you did. It’s very vivid. I can remember pretty much all of it. It wasn’t like, ‘Wow this is going to be the day.’
Jaeger says he had been working on one key thing with his coach for the duration of 2016.
Jaeger: I’ve been working on the same thing with my coach the whole year. If I do that, my whole swing comes on plane and I get into the position I want to be in.
Jaeger enjoyed lunch in the clubhouse, and then began his warm-up routine.
Jaeger: I had a prime rib sandwich (laughs).
As far as his warm-up went, Jaeger says he did the same thing he always did.
Jaeger: I go to the putting green first, I do about 15 minutes on the putting green. It’s pretty much the same thing every time.
Jaeger: My warm-up doesn’t ever change. It’s the same amount of balls, the same amount of time. I work on my setup for 10 minutes, I hit a couple 5-footers, and then I hit five 8-irons, five 5-irons, five 3-woods, five 56-degree wedges, five 51-degree wedges and three drivers. It never changes. It’s been the whole year like that. I hit a couple chips depending on what we have available. The putting and the hitting never change.
Jaeger: I stretch before, I get my body loosened up, and then I don’t need that many balls. It’s a warm-up. I’m a guy that if I’m tinkering while warming up, I’m going to go down a bad road. It’s been working, I’ve been doing that for a long time and I don’t plan on switching it.
Aaron Flener (Jaeger’s caddie): I told some people, he didn’t hit it that great on the range that day.
THE FIRST NINE
Jaeger teed off at 1:59 p.m. local time with playing partners Diego Velasquez from Colombia and Nate Lashley from Scottsdale, Arizona. They went off the 10th tee.
Jaeger: I started on 10. Hit two good shots, hit it about 10 feet, and missed the putt just low. On 10, I hit 9-iron, hit 3-wood off the tee. It was a really easy putt straight up the hill, I just missed it.
Jaeger: Birdied 11. Hit it to 6 feet with a 9-iron again. Hit driver off the tee.
Jaeger: I had 6-iron off the tee on No. 12, a par-3. I leaked it right into the bunker and it to a foot to save par.
At this point, Jaeger didn’t believe he had something magical coming. It was an average-enough start.
Jaeger: The start, well, I didn’t feel like it was, “OK, I have it today.” I hit a couple of good shots, one errant one, and then I just kept going.
Sophie Jaeger: Stephan started relaxed, with par-birdie-par, so I had a good feeling.
Jaeger: On 13, I hit a good drive down the middle, then hit (my approach) right at it. I was just 12 or 15 feet long in the fringe and I curled that in. I thought, “OK, good putt, you’re 2-under through 4.”
With his mid-range birdie on No. 13, Jaeger began the streak of five birdies in a row.
Jaeger: I hit 2-iron on 14 and laid up, because the pin was on the right. I hit the approach to 20 feet and then made that one.
Jaeger: No. 15 is a par-5, so I hit driver. I was on the upslope and actually hit driver off the deck to 40 feet, then two-putted for birdie. I though, “OK, you’ve gone from 2-under to 4-under through 7.”
Jaeger: Par-3 16th, I hit it to six feet and made it. It was a 9-iron because it was playing short that day. God, the 9(-iron) was hot that day (smiles).
Jaeger: I hit a good drive on 17, and had pitching wedge in. I curled a 15-foot putt in, which was left-to-right, and it was a sneaky-hard putt. Then it was like, “I’m hot today.”
Rhein Gibson (who holds the Guinness World Record for lowest-recorded round of golf ever, a 16-under-par 55): A couple of things have to go your way when you go that deep, but confidence is a big thing for sure. I was just in the zone trying to make as many birdies as I could. I hadn’t shot in the 50s before so that was the threshold that I was trying to get to. Once I got to 13 (under), it was a par 71, so I just wanted to try to get a few more.
Sophie Jaeger: I was so happy he was doing so well … when he made those fourth and fifth birdies in a row, a photographer came out, and I realized that some people had come to watch him.
Jaeger says it was after that birdie on 17 dropped that he knew his game was there, and he was feeling good. He still didn’t have any thoughts of a 59, or 58. On the par-4 18th, he had one of those special moments that happen during special rounds.
Jaeger: One of the biggest moments of the day was on 18, where I hit 9-iron but I missed it a little bit on the right side, and it was just a gnarly lie in the rough, into the grain. I chipped it to 8 feet and I made that putt for par. That really kept the momentum going for the (second) nine.
Sophie Jaeger: He said to me on the way to his 10th hole, ‘Mama, I think we’re going to shoot a good score today.’
THE SECOND NINE
Jaeger made the turn and headed to the front nine after a 6-under 29, which included his run of five straight birdies on holes 13-17. It wasn’t the first time he had been that low, but he still didn’t have a feeling the day was going to be more special than usual.
The last time Jaeger shot 29 was in 2014 at Q-School at the back nine of the Champion course at PGA National, long known as one of the hardest nine holes on the PGA TOUR (The Honda Classic) and home to ‘The Bear Trap.’
“Up to that point, that was the best nine holes for me. It probably beats either of the nine holes at Stonebrae, because that golf course is so hard,” admits Jaeger. “That 29 would beat these two 29s, but putting them together was impressive. That was the cool part.”
Jaeger: I saw 8-under had been posted after I finished nine, so I knew (a low score) was out there. But we didn’t change the game plan. I was super aggressive. I knew that was there. I just kept going at flags.
Flener: He made a couple good putts early, and his speed was really good with his putter. I thought he would play a really good round, but of course, you never think somebody’s going to shoot a 58.
Despite the par on 18, Jaeger picked up right where he left off on the par-4 first.
Jaeger: I hit it just short on No. 1. The pin was all the way back. I lipped that putt in on the left side, about 10 feet away. ‘Just keep this rolling,’ I thought. From there, I just went flag hunting.
Gibson: Your confidence just grows in your whole game. The fairways look wider, so you just pull driver and hit it. You walk onto the green and you’re like, ‘I’m going to make this.’ And then you make it, then you make the next one and the next one. It’s just a steamroll effect.
Nate Lashley: You could tell it was probably going to be a pretty great round after the first two or three holes on the back nine.
Jaeger: The flag was in a bowl on No. 2, but I hit it to 4 feet and made it. We had a bit of a wait on No. 3 (a par-5).
At this point, Jaeger is 8-under-par, and has matched the low round of the day that had been posted earlier, a 62. He knows the par-5 is a hole he should be able to take advantage of, given how he had been playing up that point. However, it was not to be.
Jaeger: No. 3 is a par-5 and it’s very reachable, especially that day. It was downhill, down-breeze. I had about 220 (yards) in. I hit it a perfect, absolutely perfect. 5-iron. It just got a really hard bounce and went on the back part of the green. It was over a big slope and down a hill and it was just a really tough putt to two-putt. I hit it to 6 feet and I missed it.
Yes, even someone who shoots a Tour-record round isn’t immune to a three-putt.
Jaeger: It’s a par-5, and I had 5-iron in my hand. That’s where the momentum kind of stopped. You’re 8-under and you’ve got a par-5, you want to at least make birdie. That’s when you think you see a round of 8- or 9-under, and you’d be happy, but you’d see it and think, “I can do a little better.”
Gibson: When I shot 55, the fourth-last hole was a par-5 and I had 4-iron in, and I made par. So I was a little perturbed, but that egged me on. I said to myself, ‘I’m going to birdie the last three holes,’ and I did that.
Jaeger’s internal pep talk must have worked, as he went on to birdie his next three holes to reach 11 under par.
Velasquez: On the par-5, No. 3, he three-putted for par. And we were like, ‘OK, he’s going to slow down.’ But he didn’t. He birdied the next hole, then birdied the next hole, then birdied the next hole and we knew he was good.
Lashley: When he got to 10- or 11-under, I remember he got there really early. He just needed a birdie or two to get to 59. He was obviously hitting it really well, and was making every putt that he looked at. It kind of crossed my mind, but I was trying not to get too caught up in his because I was trying to play too.
Jaeger: (On the par-4 fifth), I was telling my caddie, “I’m going to aim about 20 feet left and just try and get it up there,” and it was a really nasty pin – you only have about 5 yards to land it on – and I pushed it. I pushed it right at it. I was like, ‘Oh, God, this is going to be short,’ but it creeped on top of the hill and I have 5 feet.
Then I hit it to 3 feet on the next hole, a par 3, and made that. So you’re 11 under and you’re like, ‘OK, it’s a par-70. I’m 11 under, with two par-4s and a par 5 left. It’s looking pretty good.
Matt Atkins was in the group ahead of Jaeger/Lashley/Velasquez. His group was noticing something special happening.
Matt Atkins: On the course we knew there was something special going on. You could see it on the leaderboard. We kept looking behind us and he hit a lot of shots close coming down the stretch and we were like, ‘Man, he’s going to shoot 59.’ That was the discussion in our group.
Jaeger: It was in my mind after I made birdie on my 10th and 11th holes, because I knew I had two par-5s left, I had a couple wedges, and depending on where the pins were, some of them were pretty accessible.
Jaeger made par on Nos. 7 and 8, setting the scene for the final hole, where he would need to make birdie to set an all-time scoring record on either the Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR or PGA TOUR Champions.
Jaeger: The next hole (No. 7) was kind of longer, changed from a par-5 to a par-4. I was pretty pumped up; I think I had 177 with a little wind helping, and I hit 9-iron just left of the flag. It all slopes left-to-right there, and the pin was just short, and I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be perfect. It’s going to be just left of the flag. The way this day is going, it’s going to be a foot away.’
The 9-iron went 180. I don’t know how it happened. It stopped at the top of the fringe, and I had to get past a little sprinkler head … it was straight downhill all the way to the flag. I putted it two-and-a-half feet past and made par.
The next hole (No. 8), I had 139, and I have a 51-degree (wedge) that goes about 135 max, so I was like, ‘I’m just gonna hit that.’ It actually got pin high, another sign of how jacked up I was, adrenaline and stuff. But it spun back off the thing and I had 35-40 feet, right up the hill, and I actually almost made it. I had 3 inches, so I tapped that in. That was great.
THE FINAL HOLE
Jaeger, Lashley and Velasquez arrived on the tee of the par-5 ninth and waited. And waited.
Lashley: When a guy is playing well, you’re staying out of the way, (you) don’t say a lot to him. If he wants to talk, then you can talk to him, but otherwise you just do your own thing and play.
Jaeger: We were talking. The more relaxed we are, the better we play. If we get real tight, that doesn’t help us. I don’t know if that’s a thing that baseball players think is better – if they get super secluded – that would make me more nervous. If nobody talked to me, I’d start talking. That’s the way we deal with things. I’ll talk to my caddie; we’ll talk about other things. You cannot focus for six hours; it’s not possible.
Flener: It felt like a half hour; it was probably only eight or 10 minutes. I was just trying to talk to him about anything other than golf on the tee, talk to him maybe about my travel over there for that week or something. I mean, by the end of the day, you don’t have much left to talk about. You know what’s going on. We’re talking to the guys we’re playing with, just like you would on any other tee on any other day, trying to keep it as normal as possible.
Then when it was about time for us to go, we started talking about our strategy for that hole.
Velasquez: You thought he was playing good, but I didn’t really notice it until our 17th hole, which was No. 8. I asked Nate, because the scoreboard said 11 under, I was like, ‘Nate, is he at minus-11, really?’ and Nate said, ‘Yeah, I know!’ I thought he was minus-10.
A bunker came into play about 295 yards off the tee, and Jaeger had to decide between hitting driver – which provided the possibility of reaching the green in two – and hitting 3-wood, where he couldn’t reach the bunker and subsequently couldn’t reach the green in two.
Jaeger: I was 11 under. I’d take 59.
Flener: I wasn’t really thinking 58, even when we were on 9 tee. I was just thinking, ‘Let’s get this ball in the fairway and have a look.’ Let’s make sure to shoot 59, at worst.
Jaeger: I was like, ‘I don’t see myself making 6 by hitting 3-wood, 5-iron, wedge,’ and my caddie was like, ‘I like that a lot.’ So I hit a really good 3-wood that was 10 yards short of the bunker, so it was perfect position.
Flener: He wanted to hit 3-wood, to keep it short of that bunker there, and I was fine with that. I was pretty much game for whatever he wanted to do there. I wanted him to be totally comfortable with what decisions we were making. I was a yes-man on that hole a little bit; he was playing so good, I knew that if we could just get it down there to have a wedge in, we would have a good chance to make a birdie.
Jaeger: I laid up with a 4-iron to 91 yards, and that pin was on the left. I had a little backslope there, and you see the wedge shot … you’re so full of adrenaline, you never know, it could go 10 yards further.
Obviously on a day like this, you see the hole and you see the line, but the first thing you want to do is not have a 30-footer over a hill, left-to-right. You want to give yourself a good chance to just make at worst a 5, at worst, and that was the main objective.
If you put icing on the cake and make birdie, that’s fine. I would’ve taken 59, I mean, no question about it … but on a day like that, birdies come; it’s so easy on days like that, and so you’re just trying to give yourself inside 10 feet, and I was putting so well that I knew that if I got it inside 10 or 15 feet, I had a good chance of making it.
So I was glad to get that just perfect, the right distance, and have that 10-, 12-footer down the hill.
Walking up to the green, Jaeger was struck by the fact that the preceding group had stayed near the green to watch him walk up, before signing their cards. The threesome included Atkins, Rafael Campos and Jaeger’s college teammate from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Steven Fox.
Jaeger: It was just a cool feeling walking up. Obviously you can’t really celebrate yet.
I knew the putt was downhill and I was like, ‘This is going to go in without speed,’ because you don’t want to have 3 feet coming back for 59. And I actually hit it a little hard, but I hit it left edge and I think it went in dead-center, with some speed.
When it went in, it was just like, ‘Dang, dude, can we keep playing?’ It was great and Diego was right there, and he was like, ‘Dude, what just happened? What did I just watch?’ It was a cool feeling. The whole place went nuts. It was a feeling of disbelief.
You don’t realize it at first, but I was in the zone. That was pretty cool.
Flener: I thought he might just cozy it down, but he rolled in right in the center, just like a lot of other putts.
Sophie Jaeger: On the way to the last green, he said once again, ‘One more birdie, Mama?’ I said, ‘Maybe, but a par is also good,’ and he made the birdie. It was awesome.
Lashley: There wasn’t really a celebration on my end, but for him to shoot 58, it was amazing. It just looked so easy. He hit it down the middle, on the green, and made the putt. It was almost surreal.
Velasquez: I clapped, gave him a big hug, and told him to finish it off. And he did.
Lashley would finish with a 3-under-par 67 (which, on any other day, would be a fine start), while Velasquez came in with a 1-over-par 71.
THE SCORING TENT
Scorekeeper Rick ‘Scribbles’ Wild: The group in front of him obviously knew what position he was in. Typically as a scoring official, I see a group coming off the ninth green, and typically they go to the scoring tent and we go through cards, knowing there’s a group behind them approaching the ninth green.
But I stood up and went around the corner, because from my vantage point, I wanted to see Stephan hit the shot into the green. But the other thing that I wanted to make sure of, is there are some rules regarding play and returning your scorecard in a timely fashion.
Well, in this case, all these guys wanted to see the shot as well, so I went up to the rules official at the time, Tom Hearn, and I said, ‘Hey, is it alright with you – it’s OK with me – if this group, rather than returning to the scoring tent immediately, stands there to watch Stephan’s approach shot?’
So they did that, he hits his approach onto the green, and I made my way back to the finishing tent. Then one of the guys came in and signed his card, and then once he made the putt and I could hear the cheer, then the other two guys came in and signed their cards. We went through that group’s scoring, and then Stephan came in with his threesome right behind, right on their heels. So those guys cleared out, allowing Stephan to come in and sit down.
And my usual protocol is, I allow the players to finish their card and sign it, remove the tear strip, and then exchange cards back to get their own, to go over hole-by-holes.
In this case, I knew Stephan’s was going to take a little bit more attention than the other two, so I did the other two players’ cards first, then went to Stephan.
The whole time, I know that I’m staring history in the face; I know that it’s never been done, and I am the only scoring official ever in Tour history at the moment to be actually validating and approving a scorecard of this magnitude.
So, once we went over it once and I verified that he had signed it with the appropriate signatures, I asked him to read it back to me … and we went over it another time. It’s a double check I almost always do with every winner, to make sure I go over the scorecard one extra time, just to make sure that he’s comfortable with the numbers on there, I’m comfortable with the numbers that are on there, that all signatures are in place.
Then once we finish that, and it all set in that this was my little corner of history, it was very, very special to know I was going to be a part of that. It was very cool.
Atkins: We were sitting there in scoring together and it was clearly the biggest gallery around the final green of a Thursday afternoon of a group who started on the back nine (laughs). I’ve never seen that many players and people finish. Everybody knew they had to watch it.
I said, ‘Man, I think that went in a little harder than you wanted to.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, I hit that a little hard’ (laughs). But I think there was some adrenaline for him. It’s funny how you can get nervous when you play that well all day. It’s that mythical number. It was awesome to watch.
Jaeger: I was just making sure I had two signatures on my scorecard, because Scribbles was there and he was like, ‘OK, two signatures,’ then he read the score back to me, I read it back to him, he read it back to me. It was a process; we just make sure that everything was correct. You never want to mess up, but on scores like that, it’s probably a little bigger.
THE EVENING AFTER
Sophie Jaeger: I said, ‘You’re working so hard all the time, and now you do this. Take credit for this! Do you realize what you did today?’ He said, ‘Well, I think. Yes.’ He was all smiles.
Jaeger: I had a 2 p.m. tee time, so I was done at 7:15 or 7:20 p.m., and it was probably 8:30 before I got done with media. I had a morning tee time at 8 the next day, so I got a quick dinner with my mom – maybe a real quick Indian place – and went back to the hotel.
I called my girlfriend, and I think my dad was still up. It was like 5 a.m. in Germany; they all stayed up, my coach stayed up. They woke up and checked the scores and saw I was 8 under through 12 or something, and then they stayed up.
They didn’t get that much sleep that week; a 9-hour difference. Even if I finished at 1, it was 10 that night.
I think I had 100 messages that night, the most I’ve ever had, for sure. I tried to get back to a few people that night, and then did the rest the next afternoon.
It was a good feeling, to be sure, but there was business to be had. A victory could do wonders for Jaeger’s career, while three middling rounds would lead to a decent finish – and of course a spot in the record books – but nothing more.
Flener: We didn’t really do much celebrating for the 58 because we had to turn around and play early the next morning, so it was kind of like, ‘Good job, man, see you in the morning. Just keep it going.’
Because at that point, he was outside the top 100 on the money list, so he needed a really good finish to move up. So that was our main focus, just keeping it going, and he did.
Jaeger: You’re four shots ahead, your game’s there and you’re playing well … and for me, that 58 was great, but it didn’t help me if I finished 20th that week. It wouldn’t have helped me at all. Even if I finished 10th, it wouldn’t have helped me.
Not only did Jaeger keep it going, he did it in record fashion. Rounds of 65-64-63 led to a 30-under 250 total, four better aggregate-wise than anything previously recorded in a TOUR-sanctioned event, and he finished seven strokes clear of Gibson.
Sealing the victory, though, did not come without its own challenges.
Jaeger: Xander (Schauffele) came out hot on Sunday. He was 6-under though six, and I was 3-under through six, and I lost three shots. I had a seven-shot lead, sure, but if I was even par, then we’re tied and the whole game changes. But, I’m glad I came out like that. I came out pretty hot.
Xander Schauffele: We were joking on No. 18; I said, ‘That’s all I’ve got, man.’
Jaeger moved to 22nd on the money list; after arriving at TPC Stonebrae in danger of falling back to First Stage of Q-School, he was on the cusp of a PGA TOUR card for the first time in his career. The 58 was a career-defining moment, but so was the win.
Jaeger: After the 58, you think, ‘Well, this could be my week.’ It was a cool experience to go through that whole emotional roller coaster of, ‘OK, I shot 58. Let’s just not mess this up’ (laughs).
Sophie Jaeger: That was just the first day, and the really great thing was 65-64-63 the next three days.
Flener: It was really cool that his mom could be there for that. It’s different than the other guys, even. Nobody on Tour sees their parents a lot, because they travel so much, but even with his mom living in Germany … what are the chances that in the couple weeks that she comes over, that he does that and breaks the record and wins a golf tournament? That was awesome.
It was a great experience, man. I’ll never forget it. Some of it’s a blur, just because it all happened so fast, and he hit so many good shots … it’s hard to remember every single one. It will be an awesome story in the future.
Atkins: It was the first round, so it didn’t really matter because you’d think he would eventually come back to earth. But he played great all week and obviously everybody that week just tipped their cap to him. A heck of a week.
Jaeger: I treated myself on Sunday. We went to downtown San Francisco and ate at a really cool steak place.
The game was obviously there that week, I shot 58. I had a belief in myself that I didn’t have before that round.
It was a pretty good round.
Just 10 days after Jaeger recorded the first 58 in a TOUR-sanctioned event, Jim Furyk matched the feat at the Travelers Championship, shooting 12 under in the final round at par-70 TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Jaeger was in the car as Furyk played his final holes that day, and he received a text from a friend saying, ‘Furyk’s going to beat your score.’
Jaeger: When he was 10 under through 11, I thought he was going to beat it, honestly. It didn’t look like he missed anything, which was like the day I had – I didn’t really miss anything either.
He made a few pars, and I was like, ’59 is still good,’ but then he birdied 16 and I was like, ‘He’s got two more holes.’ He had two chances, and 30-footers on a day like that, that’s like a 10-footer.
Furyk closed with two pars to match the score, and Jaeger says that sharing the feat isn’t something that bothers him in the slightest. Rather, he considers it ‘cool’ that the score was recorded in back-to-back tournament weeks, and he goes back to the idea that the main objective of the week in the Bay Area wasn’t to set records. It was to win the tournament.
Jaeger: People are like, ‘Are you mad that Furyk shot 58?’ and I’m like, ‘No.’ I’m not, because the main purpose of that week was winning, especially after that round.
I needed a good week, and so that round was great, and I won’t forget it ever, but I’m more proud of the win than I am of that round. And I gained more confidence from pulling it through in the fashion that I did, than from shooting that number.
Jaeger came back down to earth after the magical week, recording finishes of MC-T62-T21-MC in the final four events of the season to finish No. 28 on the money list, slightly more than $3,000 short of the No. 25 position held by Joel Dahmen.
Jaeger was inside The 25 as he arrived at the Regular Season-ending WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz, but he missed the cut with rounds of 72-69 and could only watch as Ryan Brehm, Mark Anderson and Rick Lamb passed him with strong weekend performances at Pumpkin Ridge GC.
The good news for Jaeger, though. He has a second opportunity to earn a TOUR card for the first time via the Web.com Tour Finals, starting with this week’s DAP Championship at Canterbury GC in Cleveland, Ohio. This year marks his first trip to the Finals, in his third Tour season.
If he finishes inside the top 25 on the Finals money list, he’ll earn that PGA TOUR card for the first time.
Worst case, though, he has a home next season on the Web.com Tour regardless – a much better situation than he found himself facing as he arrived in the San Francisco area for the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae.
As it turned out, one magical afternoon opened plenty of doors.
“The targets are just so clear, and your swing feels so good, and the hole is huge,” said Jaeger in looking back on his record day. “It’s a really cool feeling that doesn’t come often, and you’ve got to cherish the times that do.
“If you’ve ever had it, you know how it feels, and as an athlete, that’s a cool thing to have.”
History is made. Stephan Jaeger has shot 58. 🔥⛳️👍 pic.twitter.com/eCDJvCja3W— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) July 29, 2016