Days after playing with President Trump, Jim Herman in contention at 2017 PGA Championship

Jim Herman 2017 PGA Championship Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Days after playing with President Trump, Jim Herman in contention at 2017 PGA Championship

PGA Tour

Days after playing with President Trump, Jim Herman in contention at 2017 PGA Championship

CHARLOTTE – Every player on the PGA Tour has a way of getting ready in the days leading up to a major. It’s safe to say Jim Herman is the only one whose prep included a round with the President of the United States at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

“(Donald Trump) is in New Jersey and I was practicing getting ready for this tournament,” Herman said Thursday after his opening round at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. “He happened to be out there on his little business vacation that he’s on, so I do get to play with the President a few times during the year and I cherish it.”

Herman, who became friends with Trump while serving as the Bedminster assistant pro in 2006-07, played with the President last Saturday. Now he’s cherishing his spot near the top of the leaderboard after a 2-under 69 in Round 1. The 39-year-old from Cincinnati finished two shots back of morning leader Thorbjorn Olesen and was 4 under through 16 before the tough finishing stretch got the best of him with bogeys at 17 and 18.

“Little disappointed with the finish,” Herman said. “I know it’s a difficult finish. I made a great save on 16 to save par there. I didn’t hit a bad shot on the two holes I made bogey, so I could feel good about it.”

Herman is fully exempt on Tour through 2018 thanks to his first career win at last year’s Shell Houston Open and has six top-25 finishes this season, including a T-3 at the Valspar Championship in March.

He’s playing in his eighth career major and has just one other sub-70 round, a 3-under 68 on the last day of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. A T-43 at the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon represents his best major finish, and he put himself in position to break new ground this week entering Round 2. 

“With results like this, you know you can compete at the highest level,” Herman said. “Winning on the PGA Tour is almost as high as you can get. Winning a major and competing in majors is obviously the next step. I’ve accomplished one of my lifetime goals in winning, but competing in majors is what we always want to do.” 

After a nearly 10-minute wait at the 223-yard, par-3 17th, Herman’s tee shot failed to clear the front bunker by a hair. He two-putted for bogey after a decent sand shot to 9 ½ feet and couldn’t get up-and-down for par at 18 after pushing his 7-iron approach to the left rough.

The late blemishes didn’t spoil an otherwise-excellent round in which Herman was in total control with the driver, a must on this 7,600-yard setup featuring swift greens. Playing well throughout the week would “definitely mean a little bit more” for Herman as a former assistant club pro, and he played his way into contention early in his second PGA Championship appearance.

“A lot of PGA professional friends and colleagues are out here playing this week, and I’d love to be the champion,” Herman said.

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