Jager hunts maiden pro title at WA Open
Matt Jager knows his 2011 Australian campaign is in need of a kick start.
The 2010 Australian and New Zealand Amateur champion has experienced his share of ups and downs since turning professional at the JBWere Masters in 2010.
Matt Jager (Credit: Anthony Powter)
Holding a two stroke lead over Heath Reed following the third round at the Western Australian Open championship, Jager is in the box seat to claim his first professional title as well as automatic starts in the Australian Open and Australian PGA championships and the NZ Open.
Opportunity often knocks softly and in Jager’s case he has proven a capacity to take full advantage of any situation when the glove is on as Jager fired rounds of 69-69-67 to be at 11-under-par at Royal Fremantle Golf Club.
Reed, the second round leader, carded rounds of 67-67-73 and is two ahead of reigning Australian Amateur champion, Matt Stieger, after the New South Welshman fired rounds of 68-72-69. Ashleigh Hall and David McKenzie are in a tie for fourth position a 6-under-par, five behind Jager.
Starting two behind Reed it was local knowledge and patient golf that has put Jager in contention for his first professional title.
“Conditions were pretty tough but I’ve played out here at Freo in the wind before and know what to expect,” said Jager.
“I didn’t hit it great off the tee today but my short game was really good and I holed a few putts on the front nine which got my round going.”
The move to the professional ranks has been a learning curve for the 23-year-old Jager.
Jager’s immediate plans will focus upon securing his European Tour card after being only one of two Australians to recently advance from stage one of Qualifying School.
Jager finished 17th at Frilford Heath in Abingdon in England to progress to Stage Two in December and then hopefully go onto Final Stage and secure playing rights in Europe.
“I’ve played well in Europe and I feel my game is suited to the conditions there,” says Jager.
“It would be great to have the win and progress straight through to the big events here in Australia, but really for me it’s just been about getting my game back on track.”
Jager sets high expectations upon himself and is a methodical worker with his game.
Since coming onto the scene as an amateur at the 2006 Australian Open, his consistency continues to improve and the last twelve months have taught him much about professional golf and life on tour.
Jager is a quick learner and he knows how to win.
Amateur achievements aside, and they were numerous, including a course record 66 at Formby Golf Club during the first round of the 2009 British Amateur Championship to finish the stroke component in a share of 4th and back-to-back wins at the Federal Amateur in 2008-09, Jager is gaining his footing and climbing the professional ranks.
Time is on his side. Jager is fit, dedicated and prepared to go outside his comfort zone to advance his game.
A win at home would be the perfect launch pad for his Australian summer campaign and put aside issues regarding a 2011 Australian playing schedule, which at present is uncertain.
A win will also give Jager a confidence boost to head back to Europe for the gruelling qualification series on the European Tour and to secure playing privileges there.
“I’m at the stage of my game where I need to test myself in different circumstances and get as much exposure to that as possible,” says Jager.
“I managed to win the Australian Amateur last year in front of a home crowd and it’s the same sort of feeling here this week. I don’t find that it puts any extra pressure on me. I just go out and do what I do and enjoy having a bit of support.”