HANCEVILLE – PGA Tour pro and former Wallace State Community College golfer Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden visited campus with his family earlier this month.
It was Jacobson's first return to the college since he played for the Lions in 1994, and one he had been looking forward to for long time.
"I wanted to show my wife and kids the school and place where I lived in college, plus I wanted to come back and refresh my memory. Wallace State meant a lot to me. It was the first place I lived on my own after I left Sweden," Jacobson said. "I've traveled all over the world since I left Wallace State as a 19 year old, and I must say it was very emotional day to come back with my family and think about the great year I spent in Hanceville. It's the place where I learned the English language and was able to travel across the Southern states to play golf."
In return, Jacobson has added to the notoriety of Wallace State's athletic program. His professional career hit an all-time high on Sunday as he won his first ever PGA Tour event, shooting a 4-under par 66 to capture the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.
Jacobson, 36, had previously finished as high as fifth this season at the Valero Texas Open and tied for 14th at the U.S. Open earlier this month.
Last Wednesday, Jacobson said he felt like he was playing the best golf of his career, but his position on recent leaderboards hadn't reflected his level of play.
That all changed over the weekend. Jacobson finished with a four-day 20-under par, missing the course record by two shots. The win catapulted him from 41st to 18th in the FedExCup standings.
Jacobson's victory was special for Wallace State Hall of Fame golf coach Dan York, especially after the pair had talked a day before the tournament and after Jacobson's visit this month.
"I told Fredrik he had been playing great and to keep knocking on the door and knock some more and it will open. It opened quickly. To see it happen for him is very exciting," said York, who has coached the WSCC golf team since 1987. "When I see guys like Fredrik or Brett Wetterich be successful and win on the PGA tour, it feels like one of my children accomplishing something special. It just means the world to me. Yesterday (Sunday) was one of the happier days I've had in a long, long time.
"It was a great day for Fredrik and a great day for Wallace State."
The 6-foot-1, 178-pound Jacobson played one year collegiately at Wallace State in 1994, turning down a scholarship to the University of Arkansas and joining his Swedish counterpart and friend Michael Lundberg who was influential in Jacobson's recruitment to Hanceville. Together the pair honed their English skills while attending classes and playing golf.
Jacobson and the WSCC golf team spent the majority of the 1994 season ranked No. 2 in the junior college poll.
"Michael and I had played together on the Swedish amateur national team, traveling around Europe, and had known each other for years. We knew it would be beneficial to be on the same college team and push each other," Jacobson said. "Playing at Wallace State against great competition and getting comfortable in the United States certainly helped me fulfill my goal."
Upon leaving Wallace State, Jacobson immediately qualified for the European Tour the following year and was a mainstay on the circuit, winning three tournaments before setting his sights on the PGA Tour. Jacobson joined the tour in 2003 and broke through with his first tournament championship on Sunday after three career runner-up finishes and placing in the top ten 31 times.
During his visit to Wallace State, Jacobson was accompanied by his wife Erica and their three children Alice, 7, Emmie, 5, and Alex, 3. Jacobson was astounded by the growth of the college in a variety of areas.
"It makes you proud to be a part of Wallace State. It was very, very different coming back. It was amazing to see the new, beautiful buildings on campus, the updates to the athletic facilities and the overall progress around campus. It's always important to keep expanding and give athletes the opportunity to practice, perform and become better athletes and students each day," said Jacobson. "When you are a teenager you are more narrow-minded about things and don't appreciate the positive things and great people around you. I had a different view coming back and seeing the progress made. My family was also very impressed and grateful for the opportunity."
York was also thrilled for the recent chance to reunite with Jacobson.
"I say this about any of my former players, but my goal as a coach here is to help these young men become better golfers and hopefully teach them some things about life's tough situations," said York. "It doesn't matter if they are professional golfers or professional businessmen. It's about teaching them to be successful in life."
Jacobson's next PGA Tour stop begins Thursday in the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Penn.