NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. – Jim Herman took the Barbasol Championship lead – with some help from President Donald Trump.
Trump’s regular golf partner while working as an assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, Herman changed to a conventional putting grip and clubhead at the president’s suggestion.
“He gave me a good talking to and told me to use a different style if it’s not working,” Herman said. “So, that was a couple weeks ago and I finally put it into play.”
It has worked well at rain-softened Keene Trace, with Herman shooting his second straight 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour event. Encouraged years ago by Trump to pursue a playing career, Herman is in position for his second PGA Tour victory.
“Some great advice, so I appreciate it,” Herman said. “Seems like I played pretty well after I played with him. I played with him the week before I won Houston, so maybe that’s a sign to come, hopefully.”
Herman had a one-stroke lead over Bill Haas.
“Everything seems to be working this week,” Herman said. “Nice change up. I haven’t been playing very well or had the best results lately. Just some good play. … Hitting a lot of greens and making some putts and that’s always a good combination.”
Haas followed his opening 65 with a 66. He made a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 eighth, his 17th hole.
“The eagle was nice,” Haas said. “That drive I won’t say is uncomfortable for me, but I just fear left a lot. I feel like I could hit it left, so I tend to miss those tee shots right. I hit a nice tee shot down the fairway and I just told myself to be aggressive with a nice drawing iron in there. Aggressive was still 30 feet right. So, 30 footer up over a slope, I just would have been happy with a two putt there. Just fortunate to make a long one.”
David Toms was two strokes back at 12 under after a 64. The 52-year-old Toms made a 13-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fifth, his 14th hole of the day. D.J. Trahan, Kelly Kraft and Kramer Hickok also were 12 under, each shooting 67.
“Just really solid,” Toms said. “Probably the key to today is I had a couple pitch-ins from off the green in tough situations on a couple of the par 3s, so to hole those kind of kept my round going. But other than that, I hit a lot of shots in the fairway, I had a lot of birdie chances.”
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez (65), Austin Cook (66), Sebastian Munoz (68) and Wes Roach (69) were 11 under.
Tom Lovelady played the first six holes on the back nine in 7 under, capped by a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th. He bogeyed the par-3 16th and parred the last two for a 65 to top the group at 10 under.
J.T. Poston, the first-round leader after a 62, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 18th at 9 under. Canadian Nick Taylor, a stroke behind Poston after an opening 63, also was 9 under after a 72.
John Daly missed the cut with rounds of 71 and 72. Fighting osteoarthritis in his right knee, the 53-year-old Daly was playing his first PGA Tour event since he was approved for a cart last fall. Denied a cart by the R&A for the British Open, he has been approved for a cart at PGA Tour events until the end of the year.
The winner will receive a spot in the PGA Championship, but not in the Masters.
Prugh stays in the hunt
Spokane’s Alex Prugh finished with consecutive birdies to post a 3-under 69 and is tied for 40th at 7 under.
Prugh started hot with a birdie on his first hole, the 411-yard par-4 10th, and went out in 34. The Ferris High grad carded five birdies total.
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