Jim Herman was persuaded to play the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., by an influential acquaintance, and he made it pay off Thursday with a nine-under-par 62 for a two-shot lead.
No, it wasn't President Donald Trump this time.
Herman wasn't getting much out of his game — three missed cuts and a tie for 27th — when he played the Seminole Pro-Member the day after the Honda Classic. Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, came along for nine holes and liked what he saw from Herman, who said he would have had a 65 that day.
"Had a really good day there, and got urged on from Jack Welch — he's a member there — to play here," Herman said. "I was looking at taking two weeks off, so I was kind of a late commit to this tournament. I guess I'm certainly glad I took his advice."
Herman putted for birdie on all but two holes on the tree-lined Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, and except for a 35-foot putt from the fringe on No. 10 (his opening hole), the rest of his birdie putts were all from 15 feet or close. He only came close to bogey once, making an eight-foot par save on No. 2.
He wound up missing the course record by one shot, but still had a two-shot lead over British Open champion Henrik Stenson and Russell Henley. The first round did not finish because of a one-hour fog delay Thursday morning, though it should be back on schedule by the weekend.
Herman, of course, is most famous for his relationship with Trump.
After grinding on the mini-tours for longer than he cares to remember, he took a job as an assistant pro at Trump National in New Jersey and one day was summoned to play with the boss. Herman played great that day, and Trump encouraged him to give the PGA Tour another attempt.
He eventually made it, and picked up his first PGA Tour victory last year at the Shell Houston Open. Herman still has an endorsement deal with Trump, and he has the Trump golf logo on the crest of his shirt and on his golf bag.
Woods will not play at Bay Hills
Tiger Woods won't be playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week and still doesn't know when he can compete again.
Woods announced on his website Thursday night that ongoing rest and rehabilitation on his back will keep him away from the tournament he has won eight times. Woods says he was particularly disappointed to miss Bay Hill because of the celebration of the tournament host. Palmer died in September.
Woods and Palmer had a close relationship, and they spent plenty of time together on the 18th green at Bay Hill after the eight times that Woods won, most recently in 2013. Woods also noted that his two children were born in the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Meanwhile, Woods says he has no timetable for his return.
Horsey leads weather-interrupted Hero Indian Open
England's David Horsey topped the Hero Indian Open leaderboard at five under with three holes left when lightning suspended first-round play for the day.