Stephan Jaeger will be a professional golfer before the end of the calendar year.
But he's still got one, two, perhaps three or more tournaments to play as an amateur.
The first will begin Thursday when he and his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teammates play in one of six NCAA regional tournaments.
"I think it's a good ending, and it would be a real nice ending to play Riviera, and that would be a nice conclusion to my career at UTC," Jaeger said. "I'm ready to do this, and I'm ready for the next step to play as a professional.
"We have a couple weeks left, and I'll do the best I can."
The Mocs are the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Regional. They will compete against 13 other teams at the Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky.
The top five teams will advance to the NCAA championship tournament at the famed Riviera Club outside Los Angeles.
"The expectation of just going to a regional has gone away," UTC coach Mark Guhne said. "We expect to be at regionals every year."
Moving on to the national championship is viewed as almost an expectation this year, since the Mocs have participated a region tournament for the past five seasons.
"Ever since we made it to the national championship at Inverness , we expect to get through every year," Guhne acknowledged. "The last couple of years we haven't played well at regionals. But we hadn't played well in conference."
This year, the Mocs won the Southern Conference tournament by 19 strokes.
Jaeger, a Baylor School alumnus who is ranked among the top 60 amateurs in the world, said he likes UTC's chances of advancing to L.A.
"I think we have a lot of talent and a lot of people who can play well," Jaeger said. "I have confidence in these guys, and that's all you really need."
Guhne will be taking Jaeger, junior Steven Fox, sophomores Chris Robb and Davis Bunn and freshman Liam Johnson on the trip to Kentucky, including a Tuesday stop at the Golf Club of Tennessee outside of Nashville for a practice round.
"I think we play better when we're up against higher-ranked teams," Fox said. "Being that it's close, I texted a few people to bring a gallery and make it as close to home as possible, and I think that will help us."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...