Whether competing for Baylor School, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga or professionally on the Web.com Tour, Stephan Jaeger produced his share of dominating performances.
His debut season on the PGA Tour featured few such moments.
The German-born Chattanooga resident made 14 of 26 cuts and attained one top-20 finish as a PGA Tour rookie in the 2017-18 season, tying for 13th last July at the Quicken Loans National in Washington, D.C. Five events into his second season, Jaeger has made just two of five cuts, but both of them yielded top-20 results.
"This year, I feel more comfortable," Jaeger said. "If I miss a cut, I miss a cut. We all miss cuts. It's going to happen, and I'm more comfortable with that. This year, I seem to be knowing more about my putting and what the problem is when something happens, and it's the same thing with my long game.
"That has given me more confidence. It's almost like I'm more at ease and knowing that I'll be fine."
Jaeger tied for 14th in October at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, and he tied for 16th in November at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico. He shot all four rounds in the 60s at Mayakoba's par-71 course, with his 14-under-par 270 yielding 49 FedEx Cup points.
His 79 FedEx Cup points overall place him 93rd in the standings during this early stage of the 2018-19 season, which resumes this afternoon with the Sony Open in Hawaii. Jaeger, Harris English and Keith Mitchell are all in Honolulu to compete, while the fourth Baylor School alum on the PGA Tour, Luke List, is not.
"It's been good so far," said Jaeger, a recent guest of "Press Row" on Chattanooga's 105.1 FM. "I missed the cut at the Mayakoba last season, so it's always good to play well on a golf course you might not have loved the last time. Hopefully that's the beauty of what this second year is going to be like."
Jaeger finished 165th in the FedEx Cup standings with 211 points last season, when his inability to land in the top 125 resulted in him having to attain his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour Finals. Jaeger accomplished that by earning $69,923 and a top-25 overall finish in the four-tournament event.
"I was never worried that I wasn't going to do it," Jaeger said. "I knew I was going to get it back. I played pretty well in all the Finals events, and I think it gave me a calming mindset. I know what I did wrong last year, and I am going to change that this year, and that's the only way you can improve as a player.
"There was a lot of pressure, but I never had any doubt."
Jaeger is a four-time winner on the Web.com Tour, including a victory last year at the Knoxville Open. He remains best known professionally for his showing at the 2016 Ellie Mae Classic in San Francisco, when he shot an opening 58 and finished at 30-under par 250.
There has been a feast-or-famine aspect to Jaeger's professional career to this point, and he doesn't want to settle on a solid start to a second PGA Tour season.
"I've had a couple of top-20 finishes where I've played OK," he said. "I haven't had that tournament where I'm like, 'I can't miss this week.' Those don't happen very often, but when I do have one, I'm going to be comfortable enough to finish it off, get in contention and maybe even win one."
Until then, Jaeger will continue assembling experiences with golfers he once only knew via television, such as John Daly, his final-round partner at the Safeway Open early in the 2017-18 season in Napa, California.
"The best part of that round is that I've never seen a guy play with a tumbler in his bag," Jaeger said. "He would put ice in it and drink his Diet Coke out of it. It was a Dallas Cowboys tumbler, and he had like six Diet Cokes in his bag.
"He would just walk down the fairway with his tumbler. It was amazing."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.