AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Jim Herman is living the American dream and on Monday the journeyman still was not quite sure if he had woken up after securing a last-minute Masters invite with his first PGA Tour victory.
A visit to Augusta National for the year’s first major is a trip to a golfing dreamland for fans and players alike and one Herman, ranked 191st in the world, was not anticipating when he arrived at the Houston Open for his 106th PGA Tour start.
“You want to dream, you want to believe that you’re going to make it (to a Masters),” a smiling but clearly fatigued Herman told a pre-Masters news conference a day after his Houston Open triumph. “But you just don’t know until it’s upon you.
“There were a lot of opportunities yesterday that in years past, I wouldn’t have been able to get through and hold on and win the tournament, and I wouldn’t be here obviously today.
“I feel like maybe I’m going to wake up and I’m going to be still on maybe Saturday night going into the final round again and I haven’t done it yet. But I don’t think that’s happening. I think we’re here.”
If it hasn’t already, reality will soon hit home for the 38-year-old has he takes aim at a coveted Green Jacket.
The working class golfer is sure to have plenty of support from the galleries at Augusta National and even the backing of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“He’s been a big supporter of mine,” praised Herman. “He helped me early on in my years financially and maybe just a little shot in the arm of confidence.
“He’s doing great in what he’s doing now and we’ll see how far that goes.”
Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” could use Herman as an example of his faith after giving the down-and-out golfer a job as an assistant professional at the Trump National course in New Jersey.
It was there, in 2006, that the celebrity entrepreneur spurred Herman to try again at a professional career.
In his second year at Trump, Herman finally qualified for the second-tier Web.com Tour, with the Trump logo featuring on his shirt and golf bag, and he went on to play his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2011.
Every year, expect last season, ended with a trip back to qualifying school.
“It wasn’t like I wanted to quit. I wasn’t playing well enough to keep my job out here,” said Herman. “I was struggling with my short game tremendously about two years ago.
“For anyone that’s struggled with that area, you’ll really consider doing a lot of things. Maybe this isn’t the job for you if you can’t handle yourself around the greens and the pressure you’re going to be under.
“I was good enough to get here but I wasn’t good enough to stay.”
Editing by Frank Pingue