Jim Herman delivered a masterful performance at just the right time on Sunday in the Shell Houston Open.
Herman, winless in 105 previous starts on the PGA Tour, chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th and finished with two solid pars for a 4-under 68 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters for the first time in his career.
Herman tapped in for par and thrust both fists in the air after his one-shot victory over Henrik Stenson.
“This is pretty unreal,” Herman said, admitting he had to go through Q school seven times before sticking on the Tour.
“I’ve dreamt of this a long time and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m pretty proud of myself. (It’s) the first time I’ve ever been up there in the final group. To be able to bring it home ... I did really well. It wasn’t too long ago that I was pretty low with my game. I couldn’t get out of my own way. This never would have been possible two years ago.”
The Houston Open was the final opportunity for players to get into the Masters, and Herman seemed like a long shot as No. 191 in the world whose only professional win was six years ago at the Moonah Classic in Australia.
Stenson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the last for a 68 to finish one shot behind. It was the Swede’s eighth runner-up finish since his last win in Dubai at the end of 2014.
“You can play well and still lose,” he said. “I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself. I wasn’t given the tournament. I had to play nine under on the weekend to win it.”
Dustin Johnson tried to overcome a double bogey on the 11th. He made three birdies coming in, but had to settle for a 69 and was two shots back. Jordan Spieth made four straight birdies early in his round, but two shots into the water led to double bogeys and a 70.
It was the third time since 2008 a player won the Houston Open to get into the Masters, and Herman might be the most unlikely candidate.
Ten years ago, Herman was working as an assistant pro at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey when he played one day with course owner and Repoublican front-runner Donald Trump, who wanted to know why he was folding shirts instead of competing against the best.
Trump encouraged him to give it another shot, and Herman eventually made it out to the PGA Tour.This is his fifth full season in the big leagues.
The win also gets Herman into the PGA Championship for the first time.
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