/Mr 58! Jaeger takes dead aim at Sanderson Farms Championship

Mr 58! Jaeger takes dead aim at Sanderson Farms Championship

Jaeger first hit a 280-yard drive into significant wind. This left Jaeger 245 yards over water and still into the wind to the pin. Jaeger pulled out his 3-wood and took a good rip. He hit a shot that was 20 yards from the target, then drawn ever more perfectly back towards the pin. He missed a deuce, but the shot was good enough to give him a tap in, 10-inch putt for an eagle. Between shots, he chatted with this reporter as well as with the children he was playing in the BankPlus junior pros-am. It was, shall it be said, a very casual eagle. I know what you are thinking: Stephan Jaeger, Stephan Jaeger . . Where have I heard this name before?” It was probably the first time you heard the name last July, when Jaeger shot the first 58 in PGA Tournament history at the Ellie Mae Classic, Hayward, Cal. It’s not a typo. Jaeger (pronounced Yaeger) had 12 birdies and six putts on his way to a 58. Amazing fact: His 58 included an amazing three-putt par on the par-5 hole. It could have easily been 57. “Mr. After Jaeger’s first drive at the BankPlus Junior Pro-Am Wednesday, someone shouted “Mr. “Yeah, that’s me. Jaeger stated, “Yeah, that’s me.” “Only now is it me and Jim Furyk.” This is right: Furyk famously shot Furyk’s 58 days after Jaeger had shot his. Both took TPC courses. This tells us this: It was not a fluke. Jaeger described his experience as “magical” when asked. It was magical. It’s amazing that it has only been done twice. It takes a lot luck, lots of shots and a lot more good readings on the greens to make it happen. It is a challenge to make every putt that you are allowed to. It was truly magical.” Fifty eight is the score that most pros reach when they reach, oh say, the 15th. Jaeger required that many shots to complete the 18-hole round. Furyk, on the other hand, only shot a 135-yard shot in his 58. Jaeger shot his first round of the 72-hole tournament’s first round with a 58. To win the tournament, he shot rounds of 65 64 and 63. He was 30-under par, which would lead one to believe they were playing on a pitch-and-putt course. They weren’t. TPC Stonebrae, near San Francisco, measures 7,188 yards. Matt Atkins played in one group before Jaeger on that day and said that the course was “far too difficult.” “Fifty-eight? It was amazing to me. I was amazed to see how many of his shots were very close to the hole. I began looking at the scoreboard, and he continued going lower and lower. After he finished, I stayed to see him finish and then I headed to the tent to get my scorer. It was so impressive. Jaeger made a 15-foot downhill putt to make birdie on the final hole. He could have putted two for 59. Atkins stated that Atkins hit the ball right in the back of his hole. It would have probably gone three feet closer. He was not playing it safe. Players like Jaeger or Atkins are a startling example of the talent available in professional golf. Neither of them have made it to the PGA Tour’s Major Leagues. The Buy.com Tour is closer to Class AAA. To borrow the old slogan of the PGA Tour, the Buy.com guys are also really good. To be in the Sanderson Farms Championship field, both Atkins and Jaeger had to pass Monday qualifying at Deerfield. Jaeger won it easily with a 64. Atkins managed 67 to make it in. Both Atkins and Jaeger are aiming to win the championship. This would immediately elevate them to the PGA Tour, as well as give them a three-year exemption to PGA Tour events. Jaeger stated, “That’s why we are here: to win.” “I play well. I feel good about it. There are many guys who feel great about it. This is golf. There are many great players in the area, so it’s not impossible to know. Everyone else is competing for second place if Jaeger plays four rounds like he did in July in the Bay Area. Mississippi Today’s sports columnist is Rick Cleveland. Check out his columns as well as his Sports Daily blog. Reach Rick at rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.