Winner: Jim Herman
The Barbasol Championship was a tale of the golf pro and the president — but with a reverse twist. It wasn’t the pro giving the president golf tips. This time it was the pro — Jim Herman — getting advice from President Donald Trump.
And then it was Herman completing the story by lifting the Barbasol trophy in his second PGA Tour victory. But wins don’t come much tighter. Herman led from the second round till Kelly Kraft took the lead midway down the final nine. Then Herman finished with three solid pars and had his victory when Kraft bogeyed the last two.
“Really proud of how I can step up on that 18th tee,” Herman said, “and hit the fairway and hit the green and get out of there.” The Barbasol, played at the rain-softened par-72 Keene Trace, opposite the Open Championship, developed into a battle between two strugglers. Herman, 41, was seeking his second tour win, and Kraft, 30, his first. To this point in 2019, Herman had made three cuts in 15 previous starts, and Kraft eight in 22.
Herman’s tale: He was an assistant pro and played golf with Trump at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey some years earlier. Trump encouraged him to pursue a playing career, and he went on to win the 2016 Shell Houston Open. And recently, Trump advised him to switch to a conventional putting grip and club head. “Some great advice, so I appreciate it,” Herman said.
The Barbasol became the Herman-Kraft duel in the second round. Herman shot 65-65-62-70–262, 26 under, and won by one over Kraft (65-67-61-70). Bill Haas was a threat, briefly, getting within one of Herman with a 66 in the second round.
A super-hot battle erupted in the third round. Herman shot 62, with eagles at Nos. 6 and 15 from 11 and 10 feet. Kraft shot 61, with an eagle on a 65-foot putt at the 15th. Herman’s game fell quiet in the rain-delayed final round. A birdie-bogey exchange — the bogey was his second and last in the tournament — dropped him into a halfway tie with Kraft, who had a bogey and an eagle, that from seven feet at No. 5. Kraft took the lead with birdies at 11, 14 and 15 on putts of 10, seven and six feet, and Herman trailed by one after two birdies, both two-putts from over 30 feet at the par-fives, 11 and 15. Then came Kraft’s fatal bogeys. He was bunkered at the par-three 16th and two-putted from 12 feet, tying with Herman at 26 under, then dropped the decisive shot at the par-four 17th, three-putting from 48 feet.
So Herman essentially owed his second tour win to Kraft and the president of the United States. Said Kraft: “I just didn’t have my best stuff today. I just gave it to him coming down the stretch.” As to the president: “Put him on the payroll?” came the wry question to
Herman. “I might have to,” Herman cracked.