By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jim Herman grew up in Cincinnati but admits it feels like home on the famed Scarlet Course at Ohio State University where he fired a 7-under 64 Thursday to take the clubhouse lead in the rain-delayed opening round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
Herman managed to hit his tee shot on the first hole before horns sounded and players were called off the course and forced to wait out a three-hour delay before resuming the third of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals series.
When he returned, Herman stuffed a 9-iron to 10 feet and canned the first of his seven short-range birdies – the other side were inside of eight feet. His final birdie was less than a foot at No. 18 as he claimed a two-stroke lead over PGA TOUR veteran Sean O’Hair.
Andrew Putnam and Miguel Carballo are tied for third after posting 67s. Five others – Seung-Yul Noh, Brice Garnett, Chesson Hadley, Kelly Kraft and Dawie van der Walt – are in at 3-under.
Among the leaders on the course – Danny Lee is 4-under through 17 holes, Tim Petrovic and Chiquita Classic winner Andy Svoboda are 4-under through 16 and defending champion Ben Kohles is 4-under through 15 holes.
They’re all chasing the 35-year-old Herman, who enjoyed some early success on the OSU layout.
“We won the high school state championship here. State champs with St. Xavier High School,” he said. “I wasn’t the individual champ but our team was victorious. That was in back in the fall of ’95. Always good memories here.”
In addition to his memories, the 35-year-old transplanted Floridian also had a contingent of 12-15 family members and friends following his opening-day exploits.
“It’s definitely nice. You’re not showing off with them,” said Herman. “A lot of times, almost every other week you’re on the road and you’re playing in front of strangers. It’s nice to see some familiar faces and have them give you the support you need when you’re either playing well or you’re struggling.
Herman was struggling earlier this year on the PGA TOUR and not having much success in his second season on TOUR. He missed eight of ten cuts, and six in a row, before rejoining the Web.com Tour in suburban Washington, D.C. for the Mid-Atlantic Championship in early June.
“I had some negative momentum going and that kind of turned my season around,” he said. “It was right before the U.S. Open qualifying and I finished 15th and that got everything going in the right direction.”
Herman’s tale of two seasons began at that point and he rebounded by making the cut in eight of his final nine starts. Back-to-back top-10s and a T11 at the Wyndham Championship weren’t enough to propel him into the FedExCup Playoffs. He wound up No. 139 on the points list.
“It was definitely a disappointment,” he said. “I knew I played well enough to keep my card. Even those top-10s that I had could have been top-5s and that would have been enough. It is what it is.”
The Web.com Tour Finals are a four-event series that features a blend of Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR players vying for 50 PGA TOUR cards and positioning for the upcoming 2013-14 TOUR season.
-- Thursday weather: Morning thunderstorms forced play to be suspended at 8:30 a.m. Play resumed at 11:30 a.m. Wind W-NW 7-15 mph. Overnight low of 70 and a daytime high of 77.
-- Friday’s forecast calls for much cooler temperatures with a morning temperature of 53 and a high of 66. Saturday will be cooler as well.
-- Play was suspended from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Ten groups (30 players) were on the course when play was halted.
-- Today’s suspension marked the 12th tournament this year (24 events) to be delayed.
-- Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first round. This is the eighth tournament in 24 events to utilize such provisions.
-- Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:40 p.m.
-- Half the field did not complete the first round. They will resume play Friday morning at 7:45 a.m.
-- The second round is scheduled to start at 8:40 a.m.
-- Jim Herman made the cut in 10 of 19 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. He had a pair of top-10 finishes in consecutive weeks – T10/John Deere Classic and T9/Sanderson Farms Championship. He also finished T11 at the Wyndham Championship but ended up No. 139 on the FedExCup points list.
-- Herman finished T43 at the Hotel Fitness Championship and T53 at last week’s Chiquita Classic. He came into the week No. 73 on the Priority Ranking that will determine the 50 players who earn PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming 2013-14 season, which starts next month.
-- Sean O’Hair made the cut in 12 of 22 starts on the PGA TOUR this year but managed only a pair of top-25 weeks. He was T16 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and T18 at The Honda Classic. O’Hair wound up No. 170 on the FedExCup points list.
-- O’Hair tied for 11th at the Hotel Fitness Championship and missed the cut at the Chiquita Classic. He is currently T26 on the Priority Ranking list.