Jaeger, Mother Nature make amends in Greenville
May 21, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Stephan Jaeger was the beneficiary of a weather-canceled final round at Thornblade Club. (Kevin Prise/PGA TOUR)
About seven months ago, Stephan Jaeger was preparing for the Web.com Tour Championship. After making the cut in the first three Finals events, he knew a good week would slide him into The 25, and the man who shot a Tour-record 12-under-par 58 earlier in the year would validate that victory because he would be PGA TOUR-bound.
Mother Nature, however, had different plans. The finale was canceled, and Jaeger was left on the outside looking in.
Golf, though, like life itself, has a way of redeeming itself at moments you least expect.
Sunday, after the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation was shortened to 54 holes due to weather, it was the 27-year-old German who was left standing on top, winning for the second time on the Web.com Tour, by a shot over a trio of golfers.
“It’s the cool part of our game … you never know what kind of day you’re going to have,” explained Jaeger. “I could have played great today and got beat and it would have been a different story. You have to take it as it comes, both the good and bad. We’ve always experienced enough bad that we can enjoy the good when it comes.
“The end of (last) year was very frustrating for me. I got a little unlucky with the Tour Championship being rained out and me missing my card by $3,000. But it all … it all evened out. That rain cancellation today was an evening-out part. It’s part of the game,” continued Jaeger.
"It's a good group of people that I have surrounding me." 🏆 pic.twitter.com/sYs9txFmws— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) May 21, 2017
Jaeger, whose wire-to-wire victory at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae was his first Web.com Tour victory, moved all the way from 103rd to seventh on this year’s money list after his win in South Carolina.
It hadn’t been the best of starts for Jaeger in 2017, as he had missed four of seven cuts coming into this week at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, and had only recorded four rounds in the 60s so far.
The 27-year-old was struggling with his ball-striking, but his putter was doing most of the heavy lifting, as Jaeger entered the week eighth on Tour in putting average. He managed to putt well on each of the three courses in the rotation at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, although, he admitted, it was a different kind of experience these last three days.
“It was different because every course was a little different. Your strategy changes on each course, and you have to play it differently. It’s different holes. You’re pretty much starting three tournaments in a way,” he said. “I played very similarly all three days; I hit the ball really good, made a lot of putts.”
His rounds of 64-66-65 were good enough to win by a shot over a trio of golfers including Tyler Duncan, Xinjun Zhang, and Andrew Yun.
Duncan finished tied for third two weeks ago at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship – his best finish of the year to that point, after only playing in two prior Web.com Tour events due to having conditional status. However, with the T3 in Punta Cana and T2 this week at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, he now sits 20th on the money list, going from the outside looking in for the whole season to now comfortably in The 25.
Besides Jaeger’s 96-spot and Duncan’s 26-spot jumps into The 25, there were no other big shakes. Andrew Putnam, thanks to a T17 finish this week, remains at No. 1, Nate Lashley – despite a missed cut – is still at No. 2, and Andrew Landry, who finished tied for fifth, moved from No. 7 to No. 3. Corey Conners was the lone golfer to move from inside The 25 (he was No. 23) to outside. After a tie for 57th, he now sits at No. 26.
Other big movers on the money list this week included Canadian Albin Choi, who moved from 129th on the money list to 64th after a tie for fifth, his best finish of the year. Choi shot an 8-under-par 27 at the Thornblade Club a year ago during Sunday’s final round to catapult himself into the lead before falling back.
Blake Adams also made a big move from 128th on the money list to 75th thanks to his 10th-place finish this week – also his best finish of the year.
The Web.com Tour takes its final break of the first part of the season next week before heading to Raleigh, North Carolina, for the Rex Hospital Open, the start of 14 straight weeks of competition.
Jaeger said his win sets him up for a great run to the end of the season as he continues to focus on his No. 1 goal: to get to the PGA TOUR.
“It’s going to be a long rest of the year, just because we have so many events in a row. It’s hard to take a week off, too. You want to keep your name near the top of the money list. You want to be that guy whose name is on top at the end of the year. If I get tired I’ll take one off; if something comes up, I’ll take one off … but this is my main focus, I want to be on top of the money list at the end of the year, and that’s my plan,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve won one or not; I want to be that guy that’s on top of the money list.”
Despite Sunday’s finish not being the most traditional of closes on the Web.com Tour – the last time an event was shortened to 54 holes was three years ago – Jaeger’s name is still the one on the trophy, and he’s more than OK with that.
“To finish an event like this is totally different than I’ve ever experienced,” he said with a smile. “But I’m fine with it.”