Jaeger earns fourth Tour title at Knoxville Open
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The start of his rookie season on the PGA TOUR hasn’t gone quite the way Stephan Jaeger had hoped. In 17 starts, the Germany native has only been able to card one top-25 finish, a T20 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. For a player that admits to being momentum-driven, he was searching for one great week to set the fire underneath him. When he was unable to make it into the field at THE PLAYERS Championship, the Tennessee transplant decided to try his hand at a quasi-home game, the Web.com Tour’s Knoxville Open.
The decision ended up paying off in a big way – quite literally – for Jaeger, who posted a final-round, 7-under 64 to come back from a two-stroke deficit and take home the coveted orange champion’s jacket at 16-under 268. The 28-year-old bested money list leader Sungjae Im by three strokes, due in part to birdies on the final two holes. Finishing one stroke back of Im was Wyndham Clark, who picked up his second-consecutive top-5 finish.
Jaeger started Sunday strong, picking up his first birdie of the day on the third hole at Fox Den Country Club. He would go on to pick up two more on the front nine, and after a birdie on No. 10, the former University of Tennessee – Chattanooga star found himself in a share of the lead. He would pick up an additional birdie on No. 12, but a chip-in birdie on No. 17 would be the shot to solidify the performance for Jaeger personally. He celebrated on the side of the green with a finger snap á la Web.com Tour alum Chesson Hadley.
“I don’t know why I did that,” he said of the celebration, laughing. “That was one of the shots where I knew that the guys back there (in the final group) could make some birdies coming in, so that got me to 15-under and I knew before the day started that 15-under would do it for me. So yeah, honestly, I don’t want to copy Chesson because that’s his thing and he’s done really well with it … but also he’s done really well with it, so maybe I will copy it.”
There was plenty to celebrate from the week for Jaeger, who finished in the top five in almost every major statistical category for the week. The former “Mr. 58” hit 46 of 56 fairways (T5), 57 of 72 greens in regulation (T2) and limited himself to just three bogeys in 72 holes.
“I think a win is obviously the biggest momentum you can get,” Jaeger remarked. “I’m playing good, which is really good. I guess it’s my kind of month. May/June is when I always play well. I’m happy to play this week. I stayed at home pretty much and drove back and forth. It’s been really good.”
This marks the fourth win on Tour for Jaeger, who took home the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae title in 2016, followed by the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation and the Rust-Oleum Championship in 2017. This week’s win has a special place on Jaeger’s resume, however, as it happened in a place he considers a second home.
“Chattanooga is an hour away,” he said, “so I’ve been to Knoxville a bunch of times for football games and stuff. I’ve always played pretty good here. It played a little different this year since it’s in May – the greens got a little firmer because it’s not as hot – but it’s a great week for me to kind of pick up some stuff that I wanted to do. I stayed at home, so it was almost like an off-week. So to get the win that way is amazing.”
Jaeger will travel to Dallas on Sunday night to begin his week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, armed with the confidence that he has what it takes to compete.
“I didn’t expect to win obviously,” he commented after play. “A top-10 or top-5 would have been great and I would have still taken that, but it’s awesome. I know last year I kind of rode that train for a while and I’m hoping to do the same thing. It’s the same game on the PGA TOUR, it’s just a different golf course.”
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