LA QUINTA, Calif. --- Two former Chattanooga Mocs golfers are shooting for the biggest prize of their careers beginning Wednesday. All-Americans Stephan Jaeger (2009-12) and Jonathan Hodge (2006-09) are headed on the 108-hole odyssey that is the final stage of PGA Qualifying School.
The top 25 eligible golfers (and ties) receive full membership on the PGA Tour. The next 50 golfers earn Web.com Tour cards while everyone in the field has conditional status on the Web.com Tour before teeing off. The Web.com Tour is the direct feeding line to golf's biggest stage.
"It is very exciting to see guys who mean so much to me personally and so much to our program have this opportunity," Head Coach Mark Guhne said. "There are special young men and you have to be to get into that top 25. The competition for those cards is fierce. Whether Hodge or Jaeger get one of the 25 PGA cards (and ties) or are in the next 50 with full Web.com status, it will be well-earned.
"We look forward to following their progress and rooting them on this week."
Jaeger and Hodge battle a select field. There are former major title winners: Todd Hamilton (2004 British Open Champ) and Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA Champion). There are multiple PGA Tour winners (last tour win in parenthesis): Daniel Chopra (2008 Mercedes-Benz Champ.), Glen Day (1999 MCI Classic), Steve Flesch (2007 Turning Stone Resort Champ.), Len Mattiace (2002 FedEx St. Jude Classic), Billy Mayfair (1998 Buick Open), Rod Pampling (2006 Bay Hill Inv.), Chez Reavie (2008 Canadian Open), Heath Slocum (2010 McGladrey Classic), Paul Stankowski (1997 United Airlines Hawaiian Open), Vaughn Taylor (2005 Reno-Tahoe Open), D.J. Trahan (2008 Bob Hope Chrysler Cl.) and Camilo Villegas (2010 Honda Classic).
There are notables from the European Tour. Those include: Alex Cejka (4-time Euro Tour Winner), Ross Fisher (4-time winner on the Euro Tour) and Robert Karlsson (11-time winner on Euro Tour).
Young up-and-coming pros look to join Hodge and Jaeger in building their professional resumes. Those are names such as Patrick Cantlay (2011 U.S. Open Low Am), Kelly Kraft (2011 U.S. Am Champ) and Scott Langley (2010 NCAA Champion at the Honors Course).
The finals are November 28-December 3 at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. The field plays on both the TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses.
Hodge leads off No. 1 at 8:50 a.m. (PST) paired with Richard Johnson (4-time winner Web.com Tour) and Rafa Echenique (5-time international winner). Jaeger tees off No. 1 at 10:10 a.m. (PST) playing with Jeff Klauk (2012 PGA Tour member) and Mark Anderson (2012 PGA Tour member). Both groups open on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.
The progress of Jaeger and Hodge add to the lore of 2012 in Chattanooga Mocs golf history. This has by far been the best year in program's annals.
UTC swept team and individual titles at the Southern Conference Championship (April) and NCAA Bowling Green Regional (May) making the team's second NCAA Championship appearance. Jaeger earned first team All-American status claiming those two medalist honors as well as the 2011 Golfweek Conference Challenge in September 2011.
Liam Johnston (Tennant Cup) and Chris Robb (North-East District Open) won over the summer in their native Scotland. Robb claimed his second collegiate victory in October at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate.
The crown jewel of a masterful year is the 2012 United States Amateur win by Steven Fox in August. Fox survived a 17-man playoff for 14 spots just to reach match play. There he rode a hot putter and spectacular wedge play to the title defeating Michael Weaver (Cal) in 37 holes coming back from two down with two holes to play to claim the win at historic Cherry Hills Country Club.
Fox was joined by Chris Williams (Washington) and Justin Thomas (Alabama) in Turkey representing the United States at the World Amateur Team Match Play. The trio brought home the Eisenhower Trophy for the first USA win in the event since 2004.
Click the Q School link above to access the PGA Tour's landing page for the event. The six-day tourney begins Wednesday, November 28, and ends Monday, December 3. Follow @GoMocsMGLF on Twitter for updates at the end of each round. Tag @GoMocsMGLF and hashtag #MocsFlyTogether to send well wishes and encouragement to the duo.GoMocs.com is the official website of the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs can also be followed on their official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ChattanoogaMocs, or on Twitter, www.twitter.com/GoMocs. Find out how to join the UTC Mocs Club and support more than 300 student-athletes by clicking here.