As late as about Friday last week, Jim Herman planned to spend this week bringing his daughter back and forth to school, resting and practicing in preparation for next week’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island.
That plan changed when Herman chipped in on the 16th hole Sunday en route to winning the Shell Houston Open to earn a Masters invitation with his first victory in 106 PGA Tour starts over seven years.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Herman said. “I was able to edge out some really good players, some world‑class players, and here we are. It's a pretty an amazing place.”
Herman is hoping to ride the wave of emotion, momentum and good play this week. “I’m very confident coming in,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing very well.”
He attended the Masters as a spectator in 2008 after earning his Web.com Tour card. “It was a really rainy day, but I walked the whole golf course and just took it all in, thinking, ‘Let's get here some day,’” said Herman, who played the course for the first time with a member in November.
Herman, 38, a Cincinnati native who played at the University of Cincinnati, bounced around mini-tours for several years after turning pro in 2000. He wasn’t making much progress so in 2006 he accepted an assistant pro position at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey. Donald Trump played a round with him and told him he had a tour-qualify game, and encouraged him to return to touring with financial support.
It was fitting that Herman’s key shot Sunday was a chip-in, as physical and mental work on what for years had been a shaky short game under pressure helped him earn his first win and some job security.
“There were a lot of opportunities [Sunday] that in years past, I wouldn't have been able to get through and hold on and win the tournament, and I wouldn't be here obviously today,” Herman said. “But I just think that shows how far I've come in the last two years or so.”