PGA Tour Champions player Brandt Jobe may be on the verge of reliving the career he wished he’d had.
Jobe wanted to play Major League Baseball, but the shortstop and pitcher abandoned that pursuit after high school and went to UCLA on a golf scholarship. Turning pro in 1988, Jobe has competed around the world, racking up 13 international victories and two more on the senior tour.
With the MLB Draft approaching July 11-13, Jobe’s son Jackson is poised to act out his father’s dream.
Jackson Jobe, a shortstop and right-handed starter, exploded on the scene during his senior year at Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City. With a four-seam fastball that tops out at 96 mph, a devastating slider and a spin rate over 3,000, the younger Jobe is rated as the top prep pitcher in the 2021 draft class by Baseball America, ESPN, Fangraphs, and MLB Pipeline.
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“I did the same things he does; he just does them a lot better than I do,” Jobe said.
Being selected in the top five is not out of the question, although Jackson Jobe also has the option to play college baseball. His father said Jackson is about to head to summer school at the University of Mississippi, but will return home in about two weeks for the draft.
As Brandt Jobe competes this week in the $3 million Bridgestone Senior Players Championship at Firestone County Club, his family life is a whirlwind, not to mention his to-be-determined draft day schedule.
“It’s going to be a really exciting time for him and for us,” Jobe said Thursday after his round at Firestone South. “Nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it’s a good nerve-wracking. He’s worked hard and earned it.”
As for the choice of college versus the pros, Jobe said, “I think right now it’s 50-50 each way. First of all, you have a team that likes you and second of all from a monetary standpoint it has to all work out for both parties to be good.
“You hope that the team that selects him, obviously we know a lot about some of the teams, too, we’re not going in it blind. He has an advisor, so we have some good people we’ve gained a lot of knowledge [from]. I think you just sit back and you enjoy the ride.”
Jobe said Jackson had already committed to Ole Miss before his senior season. But the COVID-19 pandemic gave Jackson, now nearly 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, more time to train and the effect was dramatic. Jobe said last season Jackson was out the door at 6 a.m. to work out six days a week and didn’t get home from practice until 6 p.m.
“It’s kind of been one of those crazy things. He’s been a real nice player and all of a sudden during COVID he worked out hard and put on weight, which is the big thing for him,” Jobe said. “All of a sudden when he came out, instead of 91, 92 [mph] it was 96, 97. That was a game-changer.
“And then everyone says, ‘We need to see you start’ because he was a shortstop and a closer. He doesn’t have that many innings under his belt. So this year he started and his velocity started the year maybe 93 to 95 and it was 95, 97 at the end of the year, touching 99. So he progressed and got stronger.”
It’s not just his velocity. Draft analysts say Jackson Jobe has the best slider among high school prospects.
Asked where he got it, Jobe said, “That’s a great question. He does give me a little credit. I kind of showed him when he was about 13 how I thought he should throw a curveball. It really wasn’t, it was a 12-6 pitch. He’s kind of developed that from a 12-6 to his own slider.”
Jobe also coached Jackson in youth football and baseball.
“Every time I got injured, I’m like, ‘It’s a year off, I can play coach.’ I did that a lot,” said Jobe, who suffered a shoulder injury in 2018 and a herniated disc in 2012.
Jobe thought back to the first time Jackson’s pitches were measured by Trackman, a device that provides such statistics as exit velocity and movement on pitched or hit balls. Jackson, also a high school quarterback, really opened eyes.
“The Trackman craze … I remember the first event a year ago when this went crazy, some people were like, ‘Ah, Trackman’s broken.’ I’m like, ‘It isn’t broken. This is going to surprise everybody.’
“Most of the kids were 2,700, his popped out at 3,200, 3,300. I think that’s what makes people interested because you’re different. You have a unique skill. His fastball spins more than most. Everything he does, it must be how he grips it or his fingers, or the football. I don’t know it’s all tied in. We don’t have to figure that out, just keep doing it.”
Jackson Jobe is not the only son of a Champions Tour player who didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps athletically.
Jim Furyk’s son Tanner, 17, a senior at The Bolles School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., started playing lacrosse in the seventh grade and is now considering Division III schools. Furyk said Tanner, now a 12-handicap, gave up golf for about five years before taking it up again when he was 15. His father’s profession is now his second-favorite sport.
“He just came from a showcase in Connecticut,” Furyk said Wednesday of Tanner’s lacrosse career. “He started late, just fell in love with it, and worked hard at it. He likes to play with his buddies, teammates, schoolmates.
“Their team was real successful back in the ‘80s, ‘90s. … They’re building it back up. They went to the state final four last year, lost in the semis.”
Furyk realizes how hard it is for a son to follow his father into a golf career. He once discussed that pressure with Bill Haas, son of Champions Tour player Jay Haas. Haas’s other son, Jay Jr., an eight-year pro and former PGA Tour caddie, now serves as director of instruction and coaching at Haas Family Golf in Greenville, S.C.
“Billy said he’d go to the scoring tent at a junior tournament and everybody wanted to know how the Haas boys played,” Furyk said.
That was not the case for the Jobes. Jobe said Jackson won state titles in football and baseball, but never liked golf. Jackson’s performance as a senior proved he’d chosen the right path.
“It wasn’t like he was a slouch before this all happened. He took it upon himself to say, ‘I want to see how good I can get,’” Jobe said. “When you see [his fastball] coming out at 96 miles an hour easy, that’s when I was like, ‘OK.’ I knew how good his slider was.”
The draft starts on a Sunday, planned by MLB to lead into the All-Star Game in Atlanta, which will pose an issue for Jobe. He will be playing in the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha (Nebraska) Country Club.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet or how I’m going to do it,” Jobe said. “I thought the draft started at 7. If we finish by 5, that’s the last group in. I’m an hour and seven minutes on a flight, I can hire a plane and be home, right?
“Now I’m finding out [the draft] is at 6. It’s a good problem to have. It’s exciting.”
As for the best thing he ever taught his son to prepare him for a professional future, Jobe thought back to something Jackson mentioned in a recent interview.
“I said, ‘The one thing you’re going to find in this game, it’s so hard because people are always looking at you. So as good as you are on the field, you’ve got to be that good off the field,’” Jobe said. “’If you can do that, that will separate you from a lot of people because it’s very hard to do.’”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.