By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Though Jim Herman may not be the biggest name in the Web.com Tour Finals, one couldn’t help but notice the block capital letters on his pink sweater Saturday.
TRUMP. Yes, the Donald.
“I’ve had a nice, unique relationship with Mr. Trump,” Herman said after Saturday’s 4-under-par 67 at the Nationwide Children’s Championship left him three shots behind leader Seung-Yul Noh.
Herman spent two years as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, allowing him to hone his game before heading to the pro tours. When Herman earned his way to the Web.com Tour in 2007, Trump agreed to give him some financial backing.
“It’s nice having someone like that on your shirt,” Herman said. “You get a lot of attention, people ask about it. And he couldn’t have been more helpful to me. He’s a great man.”
Herman, whose 64 led the rain-marred opening round but followed with a 75 on Friday, rebounded from an opening bogey Saturday to record five birdies the rest of the way with no more bogeys.
The Cincinnati native still sees Trump on the occasional summer weekend at Trump National Bedminster, and he lives not far from Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“He’s out all the time,” Herman said. “He’s a businessman, but he loves playing golf on the weekends.”
Two of Trump’s courses host PGA TOUR events, which happen to fall on the same weekend. The WGC Cadillac Championship is held each year on the TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral, while those without WGC status can play at Trump International Puerto Rico.
LEFT WANTING MORE: Alex Aragon matched the tournament record with five consecutive birdies, sparking a 68 that left him in a tie for fifth. Even so, he was a little chagrined by what he left out there.
“It could have been seven in a row, but I missed a couple of 10-footers I thought I made,” said Aragon, who won the WNB Golf Classic in April.
The San Diego pro started the run by sinking a 65-foot bomb at No.3, then tacked on four more after hitting them close. The birdie streak matched Danny Wax’s tournament record from two years ago, and fell one short of the best string of the season.
Four players have recorded six consecutive birdies this year, most recently Tom Hoge at the Finals opener in Fort Wayne.
Aragon’s feat was even more impressive in that he’s been struggling off the tee. In all three rounds, he has hit six of 14 fairways.
“I’m just hitting it sideways off the tee with every club,” he said, “then doing a lot of good things with my irons coming into the greens.”
Aragon already has a PGA TOUR card for next year, but came to Columbus at No.39 in the pecking order for entry rank. Though he tralls Noh by five, it’s only two shots to second place.
“I have to have a huge finish to improve [my ranking],” Aragon said. “I’m going to come out tomorrow and try to win the tournament. If I can do that, things will take care of themselves.”
KEEPING IT SIMPLE: After missing the cut in the first two Finals events, Tyrone Van Aswegen now enters the NCC’s final day three shots off the lead. The difference?
“One or two 20-footers a round,” said the South African native. “That’s all it is. I made hardly any putts the first two weeks, and I feel like I’ve been putting good.
“You’ve got to almost double down on what you’ve been doing – not change anything, and just go back to business.”
Van Aswegen needed 28 putts to get around Ohio State’s Scarlet course on Saturday, slightly lower than his average for the week. “If I was putting really well,” he said, “I would have shot maybe five shots better.”
Nonetheless, a good Sunday can put him in good position to claim a PGA TOUR card in the Finals.
“You try not to think of that stuff,” he said. “It creeps in every now and then, but you’ve got to kind of got to just let it disappear. You just try and play good golf and hit good shots. All the [rewards] is just the end result from doing what you can do in the present.”
WAKE-UP CALL: Take away two or three “tired swings” in the first round, and Hudson Swafford might be in the thick of the NCC chase.
After three late bogeys in the rain-disrupted first round led to a 74, the University of Georgia alum has used rounds of 67-68 to move into a tie for eighth.
“I had a couple of tired swings on the back nine on the first day,” he said. “Besides that, it’s been good. Today I made one bonehead error with a wedge and made bogey. But other than that then, it was a flawless round of golf.”
Hudson has been among the top five in greens in regulation each of the past two days.
“I didn’t have to hit it within 10 feet at every hole,” he said, “but I hit a lot of good, quality shots.”