PGA Professional Champion Jesse Mueller finding comfort on golf's major stage at 2022 PGA Championship
When Jesse Mueller won the PGA Professional Championship in April, he did so with his wife on his bag.
With the PGA Championship now just days away, there was no need for the pair to change out their player-caddie strategy. Jessie (note the different spelling!) will be on the bag again as Mueller makes his PGA Championship debut.
“So much of golf is being comfortable in your own shoes,” Mueller said after the PGA Professional Championship. “I’m more comfortable with (Jessie) than anyone.”
Mueller, a PGA Member since 2017, won the prestigious Walter Hagen Cup in April as this year’s PGA Professional Champion. He topped a robust field of 312 PGA Club Professionals in Texas by five shots and will tee it up at the PGA Championship for the first time this week.
Jesse and Jessie, who celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary during Sunday’s opening round of the PGA Professional Championship, arrived in Tulsa on Saturday. Sunday and Monday, Mueller said, were spent mostly getting a feel for the course, the grass, the green speeds, the course conditions, and what he’s going to be comfortable with hitting off the tee in Tulsa.
And now, Mueller said he hopes to put some big-time experience from other big-time stages in professional golf to carry him to the weekend at Southern Hills Country Club.
“I’m comfortable enough to let my game shine through,” said Mueller, who is competing in his second major championship. He made the cut at the U.S. Open in 2012. “Obviously winning the (PGA Professional Championship) a couple of weeks ago… my game is in pretty good shape.
“Just able to play in competitive events and play pretty well feels good heading into a big event like this.”
It was a windy week in Texas for the PGA Professional Championship and Mueller said he had “a lot of good things” happen that week. He chipped in three times, for example, and even though the winds wreaked havoc on many of the nation’s best professionals, the wind didn’t affect Mueller that much.
“It’s definitely an honor,” he said of winning the Walter Hagen Cup. “You have to play well to get (into the PGA Championship field). To win over such a big field of really good golfers on a Championship golf course is something I’m definitely proud of.”
Mueller played professionally full time for nine years, and he’s made cuts on the PGA Tour in the past. His victory at the PGA Professional Championship came in the midst of a 12-month stretch of very solid golf for the 39-year-old. He’s finished outside the top 10 in just two events of the PGA Southwest Section in the last 18 months – and not once through 2022.
Despite his tidy resume, Mueller stepped away from the full-time grind and embraced being a golf professional as he entered his 30s. At that point, he was married with kids and his game “wasn’t quite” where he wanted it to be. He won a handful of mini-tour events and was a member of the Korn Ferry Tour in 2007 and 2009 but it was hard to put everything together as often as is needed to compete, and win, on the big Tours.
He ended up getting a solid opportunity to stay in the golf business and stay involved in golf while working at the Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, Az. He’s the General Manager of the course – his day-to-day duties are mostly wrapped in managing the golf operations at the club – and is a volunteer assistant coach (his brother, Mark Mueller is the head coach) of the school’s men’s golf team.
“I help the guys out at practice when they ask and they’re obviously really excited to see how it goes,” said Mueller of the team’s support for him this week at the PGA Championship.
But all of that is now in the past. How he played while trying to make it on the PGA Tour, his effort to get to the top of the leaderboard at the PGA Professional Championship, the coaching, and the course management will be sent to the rear-view mirror when the balls are in the air on Thursday in Tulsa.
And Mueller can’t wait.
“I played the weekend at the U.S. Open, at PGA Tour events… so I know I can do it,” said Mueller. “You never know what can happen.”
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