Bound for U.S. Open, Jaeger proud to call Chattanooga home

Bound for U.S. Open, Jaeger proud to call Chattanooga home

June 17th, 2015 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Sep 3, 2013-- Stephen Jaeger hits at the UTC practice facility.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

The jokes are becoming as warmed over as a beer sitting in the sun for several hours.

Stephan Jaeger, the former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer, has heard them all.

If he sinks a long putt, it's a "Jaeger-Bomb."

If he crushes a drive, somebody calls him "Jaeger-Meister."

The connections of his name to the German liqueur are running a little stale.

He is a stout golfer, a young man with a plan in life, and he will be playing in the U.S. Open beginning Thursday. Jaeger is paired with Timothy O'Neal of Savannah, Ga., and Australia's Kurt Barnes at Chambers Bay, a municipal golf course in University Place, Wash., that is hosting a major just eight years after opening.

Jaeger takes the jokes in stride, knowing the best golf of his career is in front of him.

He also knows Chattanooga is the best home for him.

"I've felt that way for the last couple years, including college," Jaeger said during a phone interview on his way from a Web.com Tour event to the Pacific Northwest, thousands of miles away from Chattanooga. "From my standpoint, Chattanooga is a a great golf town with a lot of good courses and a lot of excitement for every tournament that comes to town."

Jaeger, the young man from Eichenried, Germany, is the latest on the list of golfers from the Chattanooga area to compete for the U.S. national championship. He follows the likes of Gibby Gilbert II and 2012 U.S Amateur champion Steven Fox, who was a teammate at UTC.

Jaeger has made his life here. Despite the jokes, he is a through-and-through Chattanooga resident who boasts the UTC Power-C at every moment possible.

He has spent about the last 10 years here, at Baylor and then UTC, growing up on the courses in the area — from Bear Trace to Black Creek and Signal Mountain to Lookout Mountain with Creeks Bend and Valleybrook in between.

"I could have gone to Charleston," he said Friday. "I could have gone to Sea Island or even Miami.

"Yet I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, or else I would have moved there. There is so much support for golf here in Chattanooga that I wouldn't live anywhere else."

Jaeger has spent more than a few days at Black Creek — in between his travels to South America to compete — and the UTC practice facility. He has honed his game to compete with the best golfers in the world.

Jaeger earned an opportunity to prove that last week when he shot a 4-under-par 66 and then a 2-under 68 in Springfield, Ohio, to claim one of four spots in the U.S. Open — the fairest test of golf in all the land.

"At heart, I'm still a European, but I work in the states," Jaeger said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

"I love Chattanooga."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter @uchiyamaCTFP.


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