Jaeger's victory at the Houston Open was his first on the PGA Tour
Jaeger's victory at the Houston Open was his first on the PGA Tour Image Credit: AP

HOUSTON (AP) — Stephan Jaeger couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario for his first PGA Tour victory. He played the final 36 holes with the best player in the world, and he won the Houston Open on Sunday to earn his first trip to the Masters.

“It feels amazing,” Jaeger said.

Scottie Scheffler couldn’t imagine a tougher way for his March winning streak to end — a clutch shot to 5 feet on the final hole, and a birdie putt he thought was good until he looked up and realized it wasn’t.

“I hit two or three really good shots into 18 to give myself a chance and I feel like I made the putt and I looked up and it was breaking off,” Scheffler said. “So a bit disappointing, but Stephan played great this week and he’s a deserving champion.”

Jaeger closed with nine straight pars, and that was just enough for a 3-under 67 to finally win in his 135th attempt on the PGA Tour.

Jaeger was preparing for a playoff after narrowly missing a 20-foot birdie putt that would have assured the victory. But then Scheffler, who gave himself three good looks down the stretch, saw his putt burn the left edge of the cup.

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

Scheffler was trying to become the first player in seven years to win three straight starts on the PGA Tour, and he was right there with a chance. Two shots behind, he had a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th and settled for birdie. He missed from 12 feet for birdie on the 17th, and stayed alive when Jaeger missed from 7 feet on the reachable par-4 17th.

His last chance was from 5 feet.

“It would be one thing if I pulled it or something like that,” Scheffler said. “I just misread it. I don’t know why I misread it, it’s part of the game. Maybe I could have hit it with some more speed, I felt like I hit a nice putt kind of how I wanted to, just didn’t go.”

Jaeger, a 34-year-old German who came to high school in Tennessee when he was 16, earned his first trip to the Masters with the victory. He also is in the remaining four $20 million signature events this season.