Her­man hits ca­reer-best to lead Valspar

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Amer­i­can Jim Her­man equalled his ca­reer-best round by shoot­ing a bo­gey-free nine-un­der 62 in Thurs­day’s open­ing round of the fog-de­layed PGA Tour’s Valspar Cham­pi­onship.

The 39-year-old Her­man has a two-stroke lead over Rus­sell Hen­ley and Swe­den’s Hen­rik Stenson, who both shot 64. Hen­ley fin­ished at seven-un­der de­spite open­ing with a bo­gey on his first hole.

The round was sus­pended due to dark­ness with sev­eral play­ers still on the Cop­per­head Course at In­nis­brook Re­sort.

Her­man came within one shot of the course record with nine birdies, just miss­ing a 61 shot in 2012 by Padraig Har­ring­ton.

James Hahn was alone in fourth, and Sea­mus Power of Ire­land was by him­self in fifth af­ter a 66.

Tony Finau, Keegan Bradley, Charles Howell and Webb Simp­son shared sixth place at 67. Bryson DeCham­beau was also four un­der through 15 holes.

Her­man, who won for the first time last year at the Shell Hous­ton Open, de­cided to play the event at the last minute. He’s happy he did.

“That was a fun round,” said Her­man.

“I don’t think there’s many feel­ings bet­ter than shoot­ing in the low 60s on the PGA Tour.”

Stenson had been off to a good start in 2017, ty­ing for eighth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Cham­pi­ons and ty­ing for sec­ond in the Omega Dubai Desert Clas­sic on the Euro­pean Tour. He also tied for sec­ond in the WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons in China in October.

Stenson’s bo­geyfree round in­cluded just 26 putts. The big Swede hit 12 of 13 fair­ways.

“When the put­ter feels good and short game is in good shape, a lot of times I see it more as guar­an­tee­ing hav­ing a sec­ond shot into around the green or hit the green, even if it’s a longer club,” Stenson said.

Hen­ley re­sponded af­ter his open­ing bo­gey with birdies on eight of the next 11 holes.

“I feel like I’m see­ing the break well here,” Hen­ley said.

“The greens are run­ning really true, and what I’m see­ing, that’s what the ball is do­ing.”

Jim Her­man

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