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Jim Herman closes out 'very satisfying' win at the Wyndham Championship

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GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 16: Jim Herman of the United States celebrates with the trophy on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 16, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 16: Jim Herman of the United States celebrates with the trophy on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 16, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

    Written by Helen Ross @helen_pgatour

    Jim Herman’s Round 4 highlights from Wyndham

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jim Herman had planned to get in his rental car on Sunday night and start driving down 1-95 toward his home in Florida.

    Herman had about 10 hours and 700-odd miles ahead of him. If he made it halfway and grabbed some sleep, he figured he could make it home Monday in time to see the kids get back from school.

    RELATED: Final leaderboard | The clubs Herman used to win | FedExCup standings

    “It was just going to be dad again and try to figure out this thing, figure out this game of golf, try to get my head right and start back up at Safeway,” Herman said, thinking ahead to what he expected to be a three-week break before the PGA TOUR’s 2020-21 season began.

    Even the best-laid plans have a way of changing, though. And Herman’s did – in a big way – when he fired a 63 on Sunday to beat Billy Horschel at the Wyndham Championship and grab the Sam Snead Cup.

    So, instead of driving to Palm City, Florida, to see his wife Carolyn and their kids Abigail and Andrew, Herman will head to TPC Boston for the FedExCup Playoffs opener at THE NORTHERN TRUST.

    “My son's probably not going to be too happy about that, but he'll forgive me since I'm bringing home the trophy,” Herman said with a smile.

    Herman’s victory, one that even he called “out of the blue,” enabled him to jump from No. 192 to 54th in the FedExCup and make the Playoffs for only the fourth time in his career. It was the largest move in the regular season finale since 2009, eclipsing the 110-point surge when Davis Love III won at Sedgefield in 2015.

    “Yeah, the FedExCup was definitely off the radar,” Herman said.

    In some ways, so was Herman, a three-time winner who nonetheless has spent the bulk of his career living on the fringes of the PGA TOUR.

    The 42-year-old has only had 10 top-10 finishes in 195 starts on TOUR – but defied the odds by turning three of those into victories.

    The first, which Herman termed “life-changing,” came at the 2016 Houston Open when he beat Henrik Stenson by one and Dustin Johnson by two. The second, which was “redemptive,” he said, came a year ago at the Barbasol Championship, ending a dismal string of 16 missed cuts in his previous 19 starts.

    “Last summer was just a little validating, overcoming some injuries and just, you know, getting old,” Herman said. “You get old pretty quick out here with the young guys. They make you feel inadequate off the tee and especially long irons. You know, it's mentally frustrating.

    “To overcome it all and get here for a third time is pretty amazing.”

    And making the win at Sedgefield even more satisfying was Herman’s performance on the weekend.

    To even get to play the final two rounds at Sedgefield, Herman had to fight on the back nine Friday. When he bogeyed the 14th hole he actually had dropped outside the cutline but clutch birdies on his next three holes landed him Saturday’s opening tee time.

    He shot a stellar bogey-free 61 on Saturday, one of two rounds of 9 under that the Donald Ross gem relinquished that day. He then came from four shots back and held off some of the TOUR’s best in Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup winner, and former Wyndham and PLAYERS champs, Si Woo Kim and Webb Simpson, to name a few, with a final-round 63.

    Not bad for a guy who has now used a different putting stroke in each of his wins – the claw at Houston, a conventional grip at Barbasol and cross-handed at the Wyndham where he went back to one of his old Bettinardi putters.

    “I was thinking about doing it on Sunday at PGA,” Herman reported. “I had it with me, a different model, and was going to do it, but I didn't. I just stuck with what I was doing, conventional, at Harding Park.

    “But I got here, and these greens are so perfect, you've got to be able to start the ball where you're looking with the correct speed, and cross-handed just gets the ball rolling a little bit better for me at the moment and just went with it.”

    The decision proved to be an inspired one.

    Among the many keys on Sunday was the 59-footer Herman holed for eagle at the fifth hole. In all, he made 157 feet of putts in the final round and 444 for the week. He ranked first in greens in regulation and among the top five in Strokes Gained: Putting, Approach-the-Green, Off-the-Tee and Tee-to-Green.

    So, while we may not have seen the win coming, Herman’s performance was solid at Sedgefield. Forget about the 27 missed cuts in his last 40 starts. He played with confidence and conviction in a victory he called “very satisfying” and should allow himself to savor.

    “I guess whenever you win, you never really truly expect it,” Herman said. “I mean, there's the guys at the top, they're expected to win every week and they should expect that, they're that good. You know, we're all really darn good out here, but the mental game, it beats you down. ...

    “I really don't know that yet other than it's very, very satisfying to, you know, be in the mix after yesterday's round, put myself in a position to be near the lead and then come from behind and go low on a Sunday to get a win.

    “You watch it on TV, I watch that on TV all the time watching the guys and now to be able to do it is pretty amazing.”

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