Jim Herman earned a golden ticket to this week’s Masters with a fabulous victory in the Shell Houston Open. The American finished one clear of Henrik Stenson.
Jim Herman was 191st on the Official World Golf Ranking coming into the Shell Houston Open. He was without a victory in 105 previous starts on the PGA Tour and had claimed just one tournament win as a professional.
But he went into the final round at the Golf Club of Houston tied for the lead with Jamie Lovemark. Although Lovemark fell away on Sunday, Herman held it together, despite the pressure of an early charge from Jordan Spieth and a strong run from Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
The Swede took the lead early in the back nine but Herman stayed with him and, on the 16th was tied at the top of the board. He missed the green there and faced a tough up-and-down from thick rough to stay in a share. The chip came out nicely and began tracking towards the cup, it dropped for an unlikely birdie that gave Herman a one-shot advantage.
He kept his composure over the last two and played the notoriously difficult 18th perfectly to secure a regulation par, a maiden victory and a start in the U.S. Masters.
“Sorry for the tears, but I’m pretty happy,” an emotional Herman said afterwards. “We really did a good job keeping our game plan. We wanted to give ourselves as many birdie chances as we could and keep it low stress. And geez, look what happened. Never thought it was possible.”
4 Talking points from the Shell Houston Open
1 – With this victory Jim Herman has climbed to 68th place on the Official World Golf Ranking, from 191st at the start of the week. Additionally, he has secured a start at Augusta. The 38-year-old had been planning to head home to watch the year’s first Major on the TV. He has had to change his flights.
“It’s a whirlwind, this is crazy and I’m going to enjoy it,” he said. “We’ll get our daughter out of school and they’ll be up at Augusta next week.”
Before this tournament Jim Herman’s best finish on the PGA Tour had been a tie for fourth in last year’s Zurich Classic.
2 – Henrik Stenson continued his impressive run of form. But the big Swede just can’t quite get over the line in first place at the moment. Since his last victory – the DP World Tour Championship of 2014, he has been runner-up on eight occasions. He had a putt on the final green that would have tied, but it just slid by. Still, after a solid final round of 68, Stenson will go to Augusta with a good deal of confidence.
“I feel like a lot of times I put myself in the mix without playing really, really good, which I think is a great statement to my kind of low level of game,” Stenson said. “We’ll see when it’s going to happen, sooner or later. I’m not worried about that.”
3 – Rafa Cabrera Bello is playing some superb golf right now. After finishing third last week in the WGC-Dell Match Play, he carded a closing 65 at the Golf Club of Houston to claim fourth place on his own. Highlight of the round was an eagle two on the driveable par-4 12th. His tee shot landed short and bounded on to end within a few feet of the cup. He’s up to 33rd on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rafa Cabrera Bello swing sequence:
4 – Jordan Spieth made an impressive early run, holing some epic putts. The defending Masters champion made five birdies in his first seven holes to reach 11-under-par and put himself right into contention. But things didn’t go according to plan after that. He played the remaining 11 holes in three-over and ended the week in a tie for 13th. Despite falling away, Spieth was pleased to have put himself in the mix.
“Good news is I got myself in contention,” he said. “I felt the nerves, I know what I need to work on under pressure now for next week. Everything is there.”
Shell Houston Open
Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas
Mar 31 – Apr
Purse $6,800,000, par 72
1 Jim Herman (USA) 69 69 67 68 273 $1,224,000
2 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 71 66 68 274 $734,400
3 Dustin Johnson (USA) 65 71 70 69 275 $462,400
4 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 71 72 68 65 276 $326,400
T5 Daniel Berger (USA) 67 74 70 66 277 $258,400
T5 Russell Henley (USA) 70 68 68 71 277 $258,400
T7 Charles Howell III (USA) 69 69 72 68 278 $211,933
T7 Chez Reavie (USA) 66 70 72 70 278 $211,933
T7 Kyle Reifers (USA) 70 70 68 70 278 $211,933
T10 Rickie Fowler (USA) 69 70 70 70 279 $170,000
T10 Sean O’Hair (USA) 68 73 69 69 279 $170,000
T10 Patrick Reed (USA) 69 71 72 67 279 $170,000
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage