CROMWELL, Conn. — If you saw Fredrik Jacobson, with his golf shirt slightly untucked and sporting his usual painter’s cap, beating balls at the driving range, his unorthodox swing could lead you to believe he was a five-handicapper rather than a professional golfer with multiple wins worldwide. He doesn’t have the smoothest move through the ball, but he gets up and down from everywhere. That’s why he’s called the “Junkman.”Something clicked for Freddy during the U.S. Open, though — he started hitting fairways and he found continuity the following week at the Travelers Championship. Jacobson didn’t miss a single fairway in his final 36 holes.
While he kept the ball in the short grass, he didn’t necessarily make solid contact on every tee shot. On Sunday on the short par-4 15th, he nearly missed the ball as it barely cleared the water hazard in front of the tee box before rolling down the fairway.
“I caught that one a bit thin and it ran down the fairway there and left me kind of an awkward distance for a second shot because they had that pin up on the slope,” said Jacobson. “My idea was to hit the 3-wood to the upslope of the green, but I caught it so poorly that I ended up with a 35-yard short.”
From my vantage point behind the 15th green, it looked like he had either topped it or duffed it. But it was one of those “good misses.” You know, something a five-handicapper would do when he’s playing his best — that’s obviously a bit of a hyperbole.
After Jacobson tapped in for par on 18 to post a final-round 66 and secure his first victory since winning three times on the European Tour in 2003, he turned toward toward the crowd and raised his arms in the air and pumped his fists quickly.
Finally. It had taken him eight long years for his maiden win on the PGA Tour.
He handled his nerves like a veteran, though. Just as I would have imagined, he didn’t show the slightest sign of buckling under pressure. I don’t know what it is exactly, but from my impressions of Freddy, I didn’t see him choking even if it was his first time with the lead going into the final round of a PGA Tour event. Maybe his intense and determined demeanor? Which, by the way, he kept in check on Sunday.
“I didn’t want to get too excited and start hitting the ball any harder or start swinging it longer or get any of those things,” said Jacobson. “I’m excited enough out there and I’ve got enough will that I thought I didn’t need to pile myself up anymore.”
Best of all, Freddy can keep the promise he kept to his five-year-old daughter.
During the FedEx Cup last year, they were watching a recap of the season, which showed all the winners hoisting their trophies on TV.
“I’m sitting there with my kids, and my middle one, Emmie, she goes ‘Daddy, why don’t you have any trophies at home.’” said Jacobson, laughing. “Well, I got a couple in Sweden, but they’re in the garage. But I told her, ‘I promise you I’ll get one this year for you.’ And it’s been haunting me.
“I’ve been on the (leader)board; I’ve been asked so many times by the kids, ‘Did you get a trophy this week, daddy? Did you get a trophy?’ Nope, no trophy.
“But I’m coming home (with one now). So I’m excited about that. I’m glad I’m not breaking that promise for her.”
The end. Oh, wait, now he owes his other two kids trophies, as well!
(AP Photo/Fred Beckham)