Apr. 6—The all-time PGA Tour victory count may forever be shared at 82 by Sam Snead and Tiger Woods.
Former Baylor School and UTC standout Stephan Jaeger wouldn’t mind making history with a seventh career Korn Ferry triumph, which would tie him with Jason Gore for the most ever at golf’s highest developmental ladder that was previously known as the Nike, Nationwide and Web.com Tour. Jaeger won his sixth career Korn Ferry title this past weekend at the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Florida, and should he claim a seventh this spring or summer, he would instantly earn a return to the PGA Tour.
“That’s the plan,” Jaeger said Monday about his historical opportunity. “I would like to get to the Tour earlier than later, and if I can get one more, I’ll be out on Tour earlier with the chance to compete the rest of the year. I do know how hard it is, but I’m going to do my best to give myself another shot on the weekend, and that’s really all you want.
“Jason and I have texted before, and he congratulated me yesterday. Any time you have a record, it’s awesome, but I would like to get one more and then never look back, because I want to compete on the PGA Tour week in and week out.”
Jaeger is already assured of his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season, with wins last August at the Boise Open and again in Destin resulting in a No. 2 standing in the Korn Ferry points system. Winning a third Korn Ferry tournament within the same year results in an instant promotion to the PGA Tour, and the outbreak of the coronavirus in March 2020 resulted in the Korn Ferry combining last season and this season as one giant proving ground.
Though his wait to rejoin fellow Baylor School alums Harris English, Luke List and Keith Mitchell on the PGA Tour has been longer than desired, he seems to pass the time by hoisting trophies. The triumph in Destin marked six wins in six seasons.
“I want to win on the PGA Tour, and with this pandemic going on, we had to do an extra year,” Jaeger said. “It just worked out the way it did where we have two years out here. Expecting wins is good, but you’ve got to realize that they are hard. I would love to win once a year on the PGA Tour. I think Dustin (Johnson) has won one a year for the last 14 or 15 years, and that’s really where you want to get to.
“This has been a great stepping stone for me, obviously, because I had to play well again to get my Tour card back, and I’ve been doing that. I had to do a lot of consistent stuff, which I didn’t always do before.”
Jaeger’s first Korn Ferry title occurred at the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic near San Francisco, when he turned golfing heads globally with an opening 12-under-par 58. Before that round, no PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions or Korn Ferry player had ever recorded such a low score.
His two Korn Ferry victories in 2017 earned him a PGA Tour card that he kept for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, and his latest was the first to transpire in a playoff.
The week before competing in Destin, Jaeger played at the Corales Puntacana Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, a PGA Tour event held opposite the Dell Technologies Match Play event in Texas that contained the world’s top 64 available players. Jaeger shot a 6-under 66 to gain sole possession of the lead after the first round before winding up with an even par 288.
“That’s where you want to be, and I want to be able to do that a lot more often,” Jaeger said. “The putter let me down those last three days. I putted awful. I actually hit it pretty well down there, but if you’re not making any putts, it’s tough to compete against some of the best in the world. It was another step in the right direction, and maybe I got a little ahead of myself.
“Your mind wanders for sure. I didn’t put well in the Dominican, but that is rare. I think my golf swing overall is more consistent than it was before, and my short game is better more often now.”
Contact David Paschall at [email protected] or 423-757-6524.