Helped by Trump’s putting advice, Herman leads Barbasol
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Helped by President Donald Trump’s putting advice, Jim Herman had two eagles in a 10-under 62 to maintain a one-stroke lead Saturday in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship.
“I haven’t been playing bad, I just haven’t been rolling the ball very well,” Herman said. “So, to start seeing the balls go in, that’s a confidence-booster. You feel like you can make anything.”
Trump’s regular golf partner while working as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, Herman changed to a conventional putting grip and clubhead at the president’s suggestion following a recent round.
“He gave me a good talking to and told me to use a different style if it’s not working,” Herman said Friday after shooting his second straight 65 to top the leaderboard. “Some great advice, so I appreciate it.”
On Saturday, Herman made an 11-foot eagle putt on the par-5 eighth and a 10-footer on the par-5 15th. He also had six birdies to get to 24-under 192 at rain-softened Keene Trace.
“I thought the last two days were good, but improved on it,” Herman said. “You just know that you got to go low. ... No lead is safe, so you got to keep the pedal down and see how many birdies you can make.”
Encouraged by Trump to pursue a playing career, the 41-year-old Herman won the 2016 Shell Houston Open for his lone tour title — a victory that followed a friendly round with Trump.
“I’m just driving the ball well. Have had a really good iron game the last three days. And I’m rolling the ball really well,” Herman said. “So, any time you can have those three, you’re going to be in good shape, so it’s a great place. I guess the tee shots line up for me, and I’m reading the greens really well.”
Kelly Kraft was second after a course-record 61. He also eagled the 15th, holing a 65-footer.
“It was a fun day,” Kraft said. “The hole looked big with the putter. I had a lot of looks. I felt like I was making putts on every hole. It was just one of those days. The putter heated up, and it was a lot of fun.”
Austin Cook (63) and Bill Haas (65) were four strokes back at 20 under. Haas saved par with a 20-footer on the par-4 18th after driving into the water.
“Disappointed at that tee shot,” Haas said “That’s my miss. When I seem to get ahead of it a little bit, I hit it right. It’s not the best finishing hole for me with water right, but I felt comfortable over it, just overcut it a little bit, pushed it.”
David Toms, two shots back after a second-round 64, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 32nd at 11 under. The 52-year-old Toms is making his third PGA Tour start of the season.
The winner will receive a spot in the PGA Championship, but not in the Masters.