[PHOTO: Joe Scarnici]

Stephan Jaeger hadn’t won in 134 starts on the PGA Tour and after 54 holes at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, he sat in a five-way tie for the lead. Among that group was world No.1 Scottie Scheffler. “Yeah, that guy, he’s pretty good,” Jaeger said.

During the final round, however, it was Jaeger who was pretty good, shooting a final-round 67 to emerge from the pack and grab his first PGA Tour title at age 34. Five players were a mere shot behind.

The win was a nice comeback from his final-round disappointment at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open where he held the 54-hole lead but could only manage to shoot even-par in the final round to finish T-3.

Jaeger overcame mediocre driving and iron play (outside the top 35 in strokes gained/off-the-tee as well as strokes gained/approach-the-green) by making up for it with a solid short game and putting – an area of his game that he has been working on. (Interesting side note: his Ping S55 irons are a model from 2013.)

Ranking ninth in strokes gained/around-the-green, Jaeger used a trio of Titleist Vokey SM10 wedges with two of them bent. His 54-degree is bent a degree stronger to 53 degrees while his 56-degree is bent a degree weak to 57 degrees.

He was even better on the greens, using his Odyssey Ai One 2-Ball with a crank hosel to rank third in strokes gained/putting, picking up more than six shots on the field. According to Odyssey, Jaeger found the putter helped his alignment and allowed him to hit his start lines more consistently.

That was certainly the case at the 13th hole where Jaeger came up with a key 19-foot par putt to stay one ahead of four players, including Scheffler. He would eventually be caught by Alejandro Tosti, but Tosti bogeyed the final hole to fall a shot short. Then there was Scheffler, who had a five-footer at the last to tie, but missed.

Going into the final round Jaeger was not fazed by the opportunity in front of him. “To be able to kind of give myself more opportunities this year was a huge goal of mine,” he said. “I want to be there on Sundays a lot of times and I want to compete. I know sometimes it doesn’t work out your way and sometimes it does.”

Today in Houston, it worked out. Finally.

What Stephan Jaeger had in the bag at the 2024 Texas Children’s Houston Open:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Driver: Ping G430 LST, 9 degrees

3-wood: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond, 16.5 degrees

7-wood: Ping G425 Max, 20.5 degrees

Irons (4-PW): Ping S55

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM10 (50, 53, 57 degrees)

Putter: Odyssey Ai One 2-Ball CH