April 16th, 2024

Jaeger wins Houston Open for 1st PGA Tour title. Scheffler’s bid for 3 in a row ends on 5-foot putt

By The Associated Press on March 31, 2024.

Stephan Jaeger watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the Houston Open golf tournament Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) – Stephan Jaeger won his first PGA Tour title in his 135th attempt, closing with nine straight pars for a 3-under 67 and avoiding a playoff when Scottie Scheffler missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday in the Houston Open.

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. He two-putted for birdie from 20 feet on the par-5 16th and missed from 12 feet for birdie on the 17th.

His 5-foot birdie putt to force a playoff missed to the left, and Scheffler had to settle for a 68 and a runner-up finish.

“Obviously, I’m a bit disappointed right now,” Scheffler said. “It would be one thing if I pulled it or something like that. 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.

Alejandro Tosti had a chance to become the fourth PGA Tour rookie to win this early in the year. He was tied for the lead until chipping too strong on the 18th and missing the 18-foot par putt for a 68.

There was a five-way tie for the lead at the start – the largest on tour since 2009 – and eight players had at least a share of the lead at some point during the round.

Jaeger was always in the mix, taking the lead with an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-3 ninth hole at Memorial Park. That was his last birdie of the day, and no one could beat him.

“I was just tried to stay within myself,” Jaeger said. “Birdies eluded me on the back nine. But this golf course plays difficult, especially when you’re around the lead. I’m just super happy.”

Thomas Detry, David Skinns and Taylor Moore all made mistakes down the stretch.

Scheffler was one shot behind when he missed the green on the par-3 15th and failed to save par on an 8-foot putt, falling two shots behind with three to play. He got one back with his birdie on the downwind 16th, where Jaeger had to lay up and settle for par.

Scheffler and Jaeger both missed good birdie chances on the 17th, and Scheffler had one last chance on the 18th.

Jaeger finished at 12-under 268 and cracks the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time.

Defending champion Tony Finau closed with two straight birdies for a 66 and joined Scheffler, Tosti, Detry and Moore in a tie for second.

This was the final week for players to move into the top 50 and earn a Masters invitation, and no one from outside the top 50 – Mackenzie Hughes and Tom Hoge had the best chances – did well enough to earn a spot.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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