PGA light shining brightly on Mr. Hollywood, the PPC champion
By Jeff Babineau, PGA
Since hoisting the Walter Hagen Cup at the 2022 PGA Professional Championship on April 20, Jesse Mueller has been a man in demand.
“We’ve been doing a lot of interviews,” said Jesse’s wife, Jessie. “Phone interviews, television interviews ... We are calling him ‘Mr. Hollywood.’”
Jessie, who was on the bag for her husband in his winning effort at the PPC, speaks while standing high on a hill atop the ninth green at historic Southern Hills Country Club. Below, the PGA’s #TeamOf20 Professionals posed for a picture next to yet another trophy – the Wanamaker, which will be awarded to the winner of this week’s PGA Championship. Down near the green, Jesse was the man atop the hill, at least figuratively. At the PPC at Omni Barton Creek down the highway in Austin, Mueller built a big lead in the national championship for club professionals, and coasted home, winning by five.
Mueller said his chipping was phenomenal in Texas. He chipped in three times during the week. He had his share of good fortune, too. Three times he hit balls into penalty areas at Barton Creek, and he made pars on all three of those holes.
Life has started to quiet down a little for the Muellers, who, after leaving the PPC got home to Arizona, had a little downtime, and got back on a plane for Oklahoma this week. This is going to be a pretty cool week for the family. Especially excited is the couple’s 8-year-old son, Logan, who will be at home this week watching with Jessie’s parents.
“Our 8-year-old,” says Jessie, “he’s really proud of his dad.”
As is everyone at Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, a public facility where Jesse is the General Manager. The university took over an old city muni that dated to the 1960s, and put $10 million toward the golf course and a new building. Mueller said golfers are enjoying the experience of playing it. When he got home after the PPC, he was surprised to find so many had watched him win.
Mueller tried a playing career for the better part of a decade after playing on the golf team at Arizona State – he estimates he has won about 25 times on the developmental tour level. But when he and Jessie went to start a family, a steadier occupation than playing tournament golf beckoned. Grand Canyon was perfect. He still can compete in some great events, and the GM post gave him a steady income and benefits.
“I wanted to get to the PGA Tour,” he said, “but obviously I didn’t get there, though I was close a couple of times. I wanted to stay in golf. I had this amazing opportunity to work for the university. It’s been great. It gives me the flexibility to play in things like this, and still I love working for the school and the golf course.”
Mueller played on the weekend at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco, but never had played in a PGA Championship before this week. Already it has been a pretty cool experience. During a practice round on Sunday, he chatted with Henrik Stenson, who was out walking on the course. On Monday, he played nine holes with 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer.
Jessie can sense that her husband is pretty excited about the days ahead. Maybe a little nervous, too.
“I think it’s a bit of a combination,” she said. “I think there’s a little apprehension before the tournament starts. But once we get going, he will settle in.”
She expects nothing less from Mr. Hollywood.