Stephan Jaeger denies Scottie Scheffler’s third straight victory in Houston

Scottie Scheffler congratulates Stephen Jaeger at the Houston Open.

Stephan Jaeger stopped Scottie Scheffler's bid for three straight wins.

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Sunday was supposed to be Scottie Scheffler’s day.

The winner of his last two starts on the PGA Tour came to Texas Children’s Houston Open, in his home state, seeking to win three straight events for the first time in seven years on the PGA Tour.

When he came to the last hole, trailing by one, he did what he had to. His approach from 185 yards at Memorial Park’s 18th hole settled just five feet from the hole.

Surely, the World No. 1 would convert the right-to-lefter to force a playoff with Stephan Jaeger?

But he didn’t. The putt dove low and never touched the hole. The bid for three in a row was over.

The miss meant Jaeger, who cleaned up an easy two-putt par moments before Scheffler’s birdie try to post 12 under after a final-round 67, ended up with the Houston Open title by one over five golfers, including Scheffler.

“I knew that Scottie hit it close on 18. I think then I looked at the leaderboard on 18 and figured, ‘Hey, I make this, it’s game over,'” Jaeger said. “I hit a great putt, just kind of left it a little right. Ended up winning the tournament, which is awesome.

“I expected him to make it, and I’m not mad at him for missing it.”

It’s the first PGA Tour win for Jaeger, but he might have had the most “winning” experience on the leaderboard outside of Scheffler and Tony Finau — who also finished T2. Jaeger has six career victories on the Korn Ferry Tour, just one short of Jason Gore’s record seven.

The win also continues what’s been an already career start to the season for the 34-year-old German. Jaeger already had tied his career-high in top 10s with two earlier this season, finishing T3 at both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Mexico Open.

Part of his success can be attributed to Jaeger’s massive gains in distance since he joined the PGA Tour in 2017-18. He was 155th in driving distance just two years ago during the 2021-22 season and was in the top 10 on the PGA Tour heading into this week with a 307.5-yard average. That has led to cracking the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time this season.

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His distance was on display through the final round as he played after Scheffler several times on the back nine, including on the decisive 18th hole.

The two started the day tied for the lead with three other golfers, and Jaeger had opened a one-shot lead thanks to making a birdie on top of Scheffler on the par-3 9th.

But Jaeger didn’t make another birdie the rest of the day, as he made nine straight pars on the final nine.

That left the door open for Scheffler, and other chasers, several times to draw even.

Alejandro Tosti caught Jaeger thanks to a clutch save on the diabolical par-3 15th and birdie on the par-5 16th. But the firey rookie’s bid for his first title fell when he failed to bridie the drivable par-4 17th and missed the green on the 18th and failed to get up and down.

Scheffler meanwhile bogeyed the 15th, his second straight day of struggles on the short par-3, but got it back when he knocked it on in two at 16. His eagle try could have tied him with Jaeger and Tosti, but it didn’t scare the hole. Nor did his 11-foot birdie try at the 17th after he short-sided himself.

It felt like his approach on the 18th would bail out the misses and he would inevitably prevail in a playoff for his third straight win and third in four weeks. But, just two days after he three-putted from six feet on the same hole to end his second round, Scheffler missed and handed the title to Jaeger.

“I didn’t think it was going to move very much and I tried to hit it straight and I feel like I started right in the middle and looked like it broke off pretty hard, so just a misread,” Scheffler said.

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