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Presidental putting tip working wonders for Herman

3 Min Read


    Written by Helen Ross @helen_pgatour

    Jim Herman comments after Round 2 of Barbasol

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jim Herman was being coy on Friday when he talked about “someone from pretty high up” giving him a putting tip recently.

    The Ohio native, who had only cashed a check in three of his previous 19 starts this year, had just shot his second straight 65 to seize a one-stroke lead over Bill Haas at the midway point of the Barbasol Championship. The matching rounds of 7 under are Herman’s best of the year by two strokes.

    And now for the rest of the story.

    Herman changed his grip and his style of putter on the advice of President Donald Trump, his friend and former employer at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J. The two played golf together several weeks ago, and the chief executive had some pointed words for the struggling pro.

    “He gave me a good talking to and told me to use a different style if it's not working,” Herman said. “…. He gave me a little quick tip and get some conventional putting going and see what happens.”

    So, Herman, who says he’s used nearly every kind of grip, went back to as “conventional a grip as you can have” with a standard Bettinardi BB1 putter. He didn’t make the changes until this week, though, prompted by a “terrible” week on the greens at the John Deere Classic.

    “I had nothing else to lose,” Herman said. “I had to change something up. That was his main advice: If it's not working, change it. Put a lot of time in on the putting green this last week with the new style and new grip. It's just rolling the ball nicely.”

    This week, Herman has made 15 birdies and just one bogey – which was caused by an errant drive and second shot, not a three-putt. He has made 219 feet of putts, including 139 on Friday and ranks 11th in Strokes Gained: Putting, compared with his yearly average of 177th.

    “Everything seems to be working this week,” Herman said. “Nice change‑up. I haven't been playing very well or had the best results lately. … Hitting a lot of greens and making some putts and that's always a good combination.”

    Herman played with Trump, who was seven months away from winning the 2016 presidential election, shortly before he picked up his only PGA TOUR victory at the Shell Houston Open.

    “Seems like I played pretty well after I played with him,” Herman said. “… So maybe that's a sign to come, hopefully.”

    Herman marks his ball with Presidential dollar gold coins selected each week by Steven Wyder, his roommate from his days working as an assistant pro. Wyder, who teaches U.S. history in high school, makes the picks based on the tournament’s location and interesting dates.

    This week’s ball marker features Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, who was born in 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky. The coins even have their own Twitter handle -- @POTUSBallMarker – which has taken due notice of Herman’s position at the top of the leaderboard.

    The 41-year-old Herman came to Kentucky ranked 232nd in the FedExCup and in real danger of losing his PGA TOUR card for the second straight year. After the Barbasol Championship, only two events remain to move into the top-125 to secure playing privileges and make the FedExCup Playoffs.

    A win on Sunday at Keene Trace is worth 300 points, which wouldn’t quite move Herman inside the magic number, but it would be a huge step closer. He’s hoping that his play over the first two rounds will help break the cycle of futility that this season has become.

    “I haven't been in this spot in a while,” Herman said. “I know I can do it. I've won, been in the hunt a couple times as well. It's just nice to be playing the weekend, having a chance.

    “It's not a lot of fun when you're missing cuts and going week to week on a negative vibe. So, a lot of positive energy going forward and just kind of keep going.”