Journeyman Herman wins Houston Open, Masters invite

Jim Herman won his first PGA Tour event Sunday at the Shell Houston Open, and an automatic invitation to his first-ever Masters tournament at Augusta National.

Herman, winless in 105 starts on the PGA Tour, chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th and finished with two solid pars for a 4-under 68 and a 1-shot victory over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

Stenson has now finished as runner-up eight times since his last win, at the DP World Tour Championship in late 2014. He will start at the Masters as the game’s sixth-ranked player and a one to follow at Augusta following a string of impressive performances.

Herman was forced to earn the victory the hard way wth Stenson and Dustin Johnson applying the pressure all day Sunday and his one stroke maiden PGA Tour victory was a long time coming after 16 years as a professional.

Johnson tried to overcome a double bogey on the 11th hole. He made three birdies coming in, but had to settle for a 69 and was two shots back.

Jordan Spieth made four straight birdies early in his round, but two shots into the water led to double bogeys and a 70. He was seven back in a tie for 13th.

Herman’s only professional victory was six years ago at the Moonah Classic in Australia. Before Sunday’s victory he had just five previous top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. His best career finish was a T4 at last year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

At 38, he’s the oldest player to earn his first win this season, and oldest first-time winner since Alex Cejka won last year’s Puerto Rico Open at age 44.

“Packing up and heading right to Augusta, it’s going to be a whirlwind the next four days,” Herman said.

“I don’t know how we did it. It’s over but it still hasn’t sunk in. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I got a lot of texts and emails and tweets last night about ‘this is your tournament to win’, but there were so many great players out there and anything can happen in 18 holes.”

The victory also gets Herman into the PGA Championship for the first time.

Herman’s victory is a classic tour journeyman’s tale.

Herman played on the Golden Bear Tour from 2001 to 2004. He was then an assistant golf pro at several golf clubs before qualifying for the Nationwide Tour after finishing T74 at the 2007 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. He played on the Nationwide Tour in 2008–10 and 2012, winning once at the 2010 Moonah Classic in Australia.

Herman was a PGA Tour rookie in 2011, where he’s moved back and forth between the main and secondary tours. He finished 2015 in 74th place in the FedEx list, avoiding the Tour for the first time.

Cameron Smith was the best of the Aussies finishing in a tie for 19th – a stellar result leading into his maiden appearance at the Masters this week.