After 135 starts, Stephan Jaeger is a PGA Tour winner. The five-time Korn Ferry Tour champ beat a crowded group of contenders, including World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, to secure his maiden victory at Memorial Park Golf Course.

Impressive wins, especially on world-class setups like this we saw in Houston, don’t happen by accident. They tend to follow sustained periods of hard work and discipline, which is certainly true of Stephan Jaeger. Speed training with Mike Carroll transformed Jaeger’s game, as he went from below tour average in distance to significantly longer than average off the tee. In the 2021-22 PGA Tour season, Jaeger ranked 97th on tour in ball speed, averaging 172 mph, The next season, Jaeger jumped to 72nd on tour, averaging 175.3 mph in ball speed. He’s taken his speed to another level this year too. So far in the 2024 season, Jaeger’s ball speed averages 177.2 mph, currently ranked 50th on tour. On Sunday afternoon, the speed gains paid huge dividends. He averaged 325.8 yards per tee shot, the fourth-longest average of the final round. Jaeger was often well past the long-hitting Scottie Scheffler off the tee on Sunday, a not-so-subtle representation of the work Jaeger’s put in over the past couple of years.

In the 2023 calendar year, Jaeger made 24 cuts in 26 starts to go along with seven top-20 finishes. Stephan Jaeger reminded me of a slightly inferior Russell Henley throughout last season, for a couple of reasons. His ball-striking consistency caught the eye of anyone who pays close attention to golf data, while inconsistency with the putter kept him from seriously contending. Also, as the Ryder Cup approached last September, neither Jaeger’s nor Henley’s name circulated too much in mainstream discussions around captain’s picks for their respective teams, even though you could have made the case for both. (Henley didn’t rate nearly well enough in the very objective Strokes Gained: Heart and Soul category in order to register on some people’s radars, but I digress.)

Moving forward, Stephan Jaeger is a name to keep an eye on. His steady climb into the upper echelon of the sport over the last couple of years has been impressive, and I wouldn’t rush to bet on his progress slowing. He’s contended three times already in 2024, posting top-three finishes at Torrey Pines, Vidanta Vallarta, and now at Memorial Park. Looking ahead to the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage, the German-born Jaeger could find himself in the conversation to make the European roster.

Almost 35, Jaeger’s late ascension is an admirable example of the merits of hard work. He’s put in time. He’s picked up speed. And now he’s a winner on the PGA Tour, with a bright future ahead.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.