Golf

From President Trump’s partner to PGA glory, Cincinnati native wins Barbasol Championship

Photo slideshow: PGA Barbasol Championship final round

Jim Herman wins the PGA Barbasol Championship final round with a score of 26-under Sunday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville,
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Jim Herman wins the PGA Barbasol Championship final round with a score of 26-under Sunday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville,

After taking over the lead at the PGA Barbasol Championship in the second round on Friday night, University of Cincinnati graduate Jim Herman received a phone call from a pretty powerful fan — President Donald Trump.

“That was very unexpected to hear from him directly,” said Herman, who three weeks prior to the Barbasol was invited to play a round with Trump at his Bedminster, N.J., course, where Herman was once an assistant pro.

Herman said he discussed his recent short-game woes with the president during their round.

“He gave me a good talking to and told me to use a different style if it’s not working,” Herman said. “I was lucky enough that he gave me a little quick tip.”

That little quick tip must have worked. After a weather delay of more than three hours interrupted the final round, Herman won a back-and-forth battle to capture the Barbasol title at Keene Trace Golf Club on Sunday, earning a $630,000 payday and securing a guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour for two years.

After posting the lowest 54-hole total of his professional career, which includes one previous PGA win (the 2016 Houston Open), the 41-year-old Herman entered the final round one stroke ahead of 30-year-old Texas native Kelly Kraft, who managed to draw even with Herman at times on the front nine but could never pull ahead. As the pair approached the turn, thunderstorms moved into the area and forced a suspension of play.

When the skies over Keene Trace’s Champions Course finally cleared, the duo resumed their battle and Kraft finally pulled ahead by one stroke with a birdie on the par-3 No. 14 hole. Herman recaptured the lead when Kraft bogeyed No. 17, then hit a beautiful drive and solid approach shot into the green and two-putted for par on No. 18 to secure the win.

“I’m really proud of how I could step up on that 18 tee when everything’s on the line and hit the fairway and hit the green then get out of there,” Herman said.

So, does Herman expect another call from President Trump now that he’s a two-time PGA champion?

“I’m sure I’ll be receiving some kind of message,” Herman said. “It’s pretty amazing I’ve had this relationship with him. I’m very fortunate I get to play a little golf with him.”

Making the cuts

After wrapping up his final round at the Barbasol Championship with a 71 to finish the tournament in a tie for 52nd place at 10-under, University of Kentucky golfer Cullan Brown said he was looking forward to a couple days of rest before jumping into preparations for his sophomore campaign with the Wildcats.

Word got around on Sunday that Brown is a talented amateur cook. He said his favorite dishes to whip up are typically long on protein and light on leafy greens.

“I love pork tenderloin and I’m a big steak guy. I’m certainly not a vegetable guy,” Brown said. “I love my great cuts of meat and I love celebrating great food.”

Kentucky notables

Lexington’s Josh Teater capped off a great run in the Barbasol with a 4-under 68 on Sunday, finishing tied for sixth place at 21-under for the tournament.

Stephen Stallings Jr., who finished his career with the University of Kentucky golf team in 2017, was the top finisher at the Barbasol among Wildcat alums, tying for 43rd place at 11-under for the tournament. His teammate for three years, Chip McDaniel, who has now played in eight PGA Tour events in the last year and has a top-5 finish under his belt, finished alone in 68th place at 8-under.

When Stallings finished his round on Sunday, McDaniel was there waiting for him near the 18th green. Stallings said the two remain close.

“We’re tight. Between me and Chip, we were (at UK) for three years together,” said Stallings. “We travel together whenever we’re in the same event ... We had a good little run there when we were in school.”

Flock of eagles

Players at the Barbasol Championship shattered the previous mark for most eagles in a PGA Tournament this season. The previous high was 63 at the Players Championship in mid-March. The Barbasol field combined for 114 eagles, the most in a PGA Tournament since 1990.

New Barbasol tourney

On Sunday, officials announced that next year a Barbasol Junior Championship will be held June 29-July 2 at Keene Trace Golf Club’s Keene Run Course. The field will consist of 78 of the top junior players in the world, and the winner of the 54-hole stroke-play event will earn a spot in the 2020 Barbasol Championship.

Applications for the junior tournament will be available beginning Jan 6, 2020. For more information visit www.barbasoljunior.com.

Josh Sullivan has worked at the Herald-Leader for more than 10 years in multiple capacities, including as a news assistant, page designer, copy editor and sports reporter. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Lexington native.
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