Jim Herman gets talked into playing Valspar Championship, shoots first-round 62

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Jim Herman gets talked into playing Valspar Championship, shoots first-round 62

PGA Tour

Jim Herman gets talked into playing Valspar Championship, shoots first-round 62

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jim Herman was tired.

The 39-year old PGA Tour pro played three straight weeks on the West Coast before participating in the storied Seminole Golf Club Pro-Member last week.

He was looking forward to two of the next three weeks off (he’ll play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week at Bay Hill) before defending his Shell Houston Open title later this month.

Business titan and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, a member at Seminole who followed Herman during last week’s Pro-Member, had other ideas.

“Every hole it was, ‘Why aren’t you playing the Valspar? Why aren’t you playing the Valspar,'” Herman said of his conversations with Welch, who saw how well Herman was playing there and encouraged him to keep it rolling. “I was kind of a late commit to this tournament and I’m certainly glad I took his advice.”

Herman shot 9-under 62 Thursday during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, one off the course record and two better than anyone from the morning groups.

Herman said he played very well at Seminole and the week before at the Honda Classic, where he just couldn’t make any putts and finished T-27, after missing three straight cuts on the West Coast. He made a putting switch prior to the Valspar, going back to his old mallet putter and a claw grip, which he said made all the difference Thursday.

“I drove over Tuesday afternoon with a lot of confidence,” Herman said. “Just put in a quick 20-minute range session on Tuesday and had the pro-am (Wednesday). Felt really good with my game. Sometimes you’ve just got to switch things up a bit. With the putter switch I had a lot of confidence after the round at Seminole and leading into this.”

Herman also gained plenty of confidence from his first win as a pro last year, when he shot 15 under to best Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson in Houston to punch his ticket to the Masters.

“Getting it done in Houston obviously changed my life and my perspective on things,” Herman said. “I feel like I belong out here and that helps keep rounds going. Before, you’d be content with getting it to three or four-under par. Now you feel like, why can’t we keep going lower? I wasn’t worried about making any mistakes (today), just hit the next tee shot and go forward.”

His post-round press conference was attended by five reporters, a modest turnout for an early first-round leader. While most guys are available for one-on-one interviews at the scoring tent following their rounds, only a handful of the day’s top players are escorted to the media room for full press conferences.

After he’d answered questions and described each birdie, shot-by-shot, Herman said something that exemplified his newfound confidence as he exited the room.

“See you guys tomorrow.”

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