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April 3, 2016

Jim Herman

Humble, Texas

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome Jim Herman into your first PGA TOUR champion winning press conference here at the Shell Houston Open.

Congratulations on that first time win. Let's go ahead and --

JIM HERMAN: Thank you. It's a whirlwind. This is crazy. So, I've dreamt of this for a long and now it's here. So I'm going to enjoy it.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Obviously your plans for next week have changed.

JIM HERMAN: Certainly. I've got an 8:42 flight night to Fort Lauderdale. Lands at midnight. I don't think I'm going to make that. I don't think I'll be going home tonight. So, yeah, it's going to be interesting to see how this all works. You're asking about the last ticket to Augusta, you know, maybe it would be nice to win right after Augusta then you can plan it for the whole year. This is unreal. Looking so much forward to next week. Looking forward to seeing my family, whenever that might be, tonight or tomorrow.

I'm sure they'll all -- we'll get our daughter out of school and they'll be up at Augusta next week (laughter).

Q. Had you dared even to think about preparing for getting to Augusta when you got up this morning?
JIM HERMAN: No, I did not. I just wanted to keep doing -- just stick to the plan, the routine and let -- there's no way to plan for that anyway. You know, it's not like I brought an extra week's worth of clothes. You know, it's just going to be flying by the seat of my pants, I guess, for the next 24 hours. But, you know, I really don't know. I got a lot of phone calls -- not phone calls, texts, e-mails, tweets, Facebook last night about, you know, it's my tournament to win and everything like that, and it was so far from, you know, your 18 holes. But so many great players out there, you can't even start to think that way because, you know, you can play well and still lose and I didn't want to put any more pressure on myself than I needed.

Q. Henrik and Dustin both, I mean I felt like they forced you to win the golf tournament. They kept the pressure on.
JIM HERMAN: I was not given the tournament. I know that. I played really well, 9-under on the weekend, 4-under today. That's the thing, you know, you have the lead, you're sharing the lead, but most times, when you tee off on your final round you're not even leading anymore. So it's -- pretty proud of myself to, you know, get up there, first time I was in the final group, and bring it home.

Q. How did you internally manage the pressure? You mentioned that yesterday, and I think you said the day afterwards you thought you did manage it well.
JIM HERMAN: I did really well. I've had someone helping me with the mental side, Mr. Tim Cramer, and my short game coach, Bill Davis, and another gentleman, Jamie Fordyce, helps me with my swing. When you feel good with your golf swing and your short game, you don't stress about it.

It wasn't too long ago I was pretty low with my game, over a year ago or year and a half, and I got some help from Bill, starting seeing an instructor and head coach because I couldn't get out of my own way. And, you know, this would never have been possible, you know, two years ago for sure. So, I thank all them for helping me and getting me to this point.

Q. How close were you were you to giving up?
JIM HERMAN: I cried on my wife's shoulder at dinner one night right before the Web Finals two years ago. I didn't keep my card and I had to go to the Web Finals, and it was pretty low. But you know, I had to get help. That was it. Probably the same reason I couldn't get to the Tour, went through Q-School seven times, you know, couldn't make -- couldn't get through second stage.

So, you know, this game is really hard and it will weigh on you. If you're not there mentally, you know, you're not going to be able to perform and, you know, there were some shots yesterday, some chip shots, pitch shots that I couldn't have hit just two years ago under the pressure, and then I chipped in. That's the deciding shot, you know, that's -- you know, that's just like Bill said, you're going to be having a chip shot to win your tournament or a pitch or putt and you're going to keep your head down and execute it.

Q. Did you see anything specifically that saw this kind of performance coming this week?
JIM HERMAN: I've been playing really well this whole year, but I haven't had any results. And, you know, I finished 17th at Peeble, had a pretty bad Florida swing. Just maybe too high of expectations at Honda and really windy at Tampa. Seemed like my iron game and my long game was off. My short game and putting has been really good the last month, but it was my long game that kind of let me down even at Bay Hill a little bit.

I thought I played really well at Bay Hill, couple tee shots kind of let me down, but switched out putters this week to just a newer model of what I had been using, Bettinardi, just changed color scheme on it, black putter, this is a silver putter. But it was the same model, you know, from Bettinardi, and just had a great feel. And I think I had one 3-putt this week which is, you know, I'm sure you see my stats, I'm not exactly -- I've not exactly had the best stats on the putting green. But I've been working really hard with Bill on that and my speed. My speeds are really good this week, and I was able to make the par saves and some of the birdies.

Q. Where does this kind of rank in other moments in your life?
JIM HERMAN: Well, obviously my golf life, it's No. 1. But, you know, getting married, my two kids, you know, that's pretty high up there and -- but you know, I won -- winning -- I'd say another thing happened right here in Houston, getting through second stage. I got through at the TPC Woodlands, and that was the first time I got through. I think Houston has been pretty good to me.

I Monday qualified. My only -- the only time I Monday qualified was here in Houston.

Q. What year was that?
JIM HERMAN: 2010, I believe; 2011, maybe. Might have been -- I don't remember the exact year, but 2010 or '11.

Q. What about getting through second stage?
JIM HERMAN: At the TPC Woodlands in 2007, the second stage. That was outstanding. That was a pretty high moment. I've been playing professionally ever since then, you know, touring, four years on the Web.com and this is my fifth year on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Were you thinking about any of this when you teed off, getting to the tee box on 18 today? What's going through your mind right there?
JIM HERMAN: We had plenty of time to think about it. It was six, seven minute wait, which was fine but -- which is fine now. Obviously I executed but, yeah. It's easy to let your mind wander, you know. But we've been through a lot, and it's great to be able to execute when you need to. Two hard holes finishing. After I got the lead on 16, it's not like I had two little gimmes to seal it. Maybe it actually helped because it was hard for anyone to catch me then. I could make two pars and I had a really good chance of winning. I don't know how Henrik played the last two holes. I know he made pars, but I don't know if he had really good looks or not. Maybe that helped me. I knew if I could just make par, I'm going to win this thing.

Q. Jim, everybody talking about 16, it's a great chip-in. But the way you managed things on 5 when you had to have a drop. 227 to the green there and you made it up there 60 feet from the hole or something like that and two-putted. That's a good way to win a tournament, too.
JIM HERMAN: Great way. I've got a lot of experience with that shot. I've done it three times, now (laughter). Unfortunately that tee shot just has my number. I've hit it okay the other times this week, but I don't know what it is. I just get -- see that water and just block it a little bit. Kind of like everyone does on 18, but, you know, just didn't commit to it and block it out to the right.

Yeah, it was great to make a bogey, save bogey there. I made two good birdies through the first four and was in it and to save -- I made about a 6, 7-footer I'm sure for bogey but that was really, really good, keep some momentum, you know, if you ever have a momentum bogey that was it.

But, then to get through 6 and 7 as well with the water and then, you know, got to play the par-5s, you know, decently well. I did that okay.

Yeah, holding it together after 5 was big.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Was there a time when you were a club pro and you were resigned, this is my future, the playing days are not going to happen?

JIM HERMAN: Yeah. When you're missing Q-School every year and -- I got -- I played mini tours for four years and I thought that was enough of a sample of not having a regular job. I was just focused on playing golf. I moved to Florida in 2001 and played the Golden Bear Tour in '01, '2, '3, '4, couldn't get through. Playing well enough to pay the bills, but couldn't get through second stage of Q-School. Got in the golf business. Started work at the Golf Village in Port St. Lucie in late '04; then Mickey Gallagher, he's a Houston grad, another tie to Houston. He became the head professional at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey. A friend of mine worked for him and he recommended me for the job. I just had been -- just started in the golf business, just passed my PAT and just getting into the golf business. I still had thoughts of going to Q-School every year, which I did, but no -- missed in '05, '06 -- finally got through second stage in '07. But I worked in New Jersey for two years, worked at Trump National and had some really -- met some really nice people, played a lot of golf and played with Mr. Trump, and he gave me a lot of confidence, you know. He's seen a lot of players in Pro-Ams. Gave me a little shot in the arm. I was able to finally get through.

Yeah, you know, if I wouldn't have got through, I would have been fine, you know, being a club professional. I love this game of golf. I always knew I had the talent to get out here, but when you don't get out here, what else are you going to do? No one is going to let you come out here.

Q. Story surfaced that Donald actually encouraged you to give the Tour another try and also helped you financially. Can you elaborate on that?
JIM HERMAN: Sure. My first year working up there in '06 he was very supportive of me and we were able -- I went to Q-School again that fall, and I missed the second stage and, you know, what are you going to do? You keep working. Went back and worked another season for Mickey in New Jersey and was finally able to -- I think I actually you're right, he encouraged me to go back out and travel. I was planning on, you know, doing some mini tours and things like that again, but I happened to get through Q-School finally. Maybe that was the thing. You quit your job and this is it. Let's get through. I finally got through. That was in 2007. I finally got through --

Q. This conversation with him probably would have taken place in 2006?
JIM HERMAN: For sure. When I first got there in 2006, I played with him a month or two, month and a half into the job. So I played really well the first time we ever met each other, so --

Q. Was he actually a financially backer?
JIM HERMAN: He helped me financially. He wrote me a check.

Q. Have you heard from him yet today?
JIM HERMAN: I haven't heard from anyone. My phone is in my bag still. It's funny, I just played with him this past Saturday, Easter Saturday, right before I came here.

Q. How did you do?
JIM HERMAN: I shot 8-under with him. He was my partner. We beat up on Johnny Oporty (phonetic) and Dana Quigley from the Champions Tour. That gets me into Dana. Dana, you know, he's a great guy and I played with him and I shot 8-under just in a casual round of golf with Mr. Trump, and Dana and he couldn't have been more supportive.

Q. Easter Sunday?
JIM HERMAN: On Saturday before Easter.

Q. In New Jersey?
JIM HERMAN: No, Palm Beach. And Dana couldn't have been more supportive and optimistic about my game. You should see the text he sent me this week. He said last night, I was going to win today. So, I mean, lot of people said that, but it's pretty amazing, you know, when you think it, that definitely helps. Sports psychologist, you got to be positive. If you think of the negative result, that's going to happen. It's just unreal how this has all panned out.

Q. Any leads on a hotel room in Augusta yet?
JIM HERMAN: I hope Michael Wolfe and Jim Mahoney, my agents, are on top of that. It's going to be amazing, the next four days are going to just fly by. I guess three days. It's good. I got a practice round in in November. Through all the adventures in golf, I've met some really great people, and Jay is a member of Merion, Jay Haas the investment banker not Jay Hass the Tour player. But we've met when I was working at Trump National and we've become good friends and he was able to arrange a round at Augusta this past --

Q. You have played it.
JIM HERMAN: This past November. Maybe it was -- that's what we said, this is a practice round. Don't think it's your one-and-done.

Q. You guys were joking about that. Do you remember the date?
JIM HERMAN: November 30th.

Q. What did you shoot?
JIM HERMAN: I bogeyed 18 to shoot 1-under.

Q. You said on the Golf Channel the 18th green you thought this might never happen. Just elaborate on that. Was that more about --
JIM HERMAN: It's hard. It's hard to win, you know. You have results that don't say that you're going to win, you know -- I've had five Top 10s maybe in five years. I feel like I've gotten better every year, that was a positive thing, but you never know if you're going to win. There are plenty of guys that have played their Tour careers and had very successful careers.

There's nothing wrong with not winning on the PGA TOUR. But, you know, you can be very successful and have a great career and not be able to win. It's very hard, as everyone that's won will attest to that, I'm sure, but yeah, you never know. You don't expect -- maybe I got to change -- maybe it's something I needed to change, you know. That's what happened this week. Maybe I was thinking I could win the whole time. Yeah, it's -- the what I was. You always think you can do it. Until it happens, I guess, I don't know.

Q. Couple thoughts, when you were coming down 16 after you have tee shot and then when you heard that crowd coming up 18 and you knew that things might work out, what were your thoughts those two places?
JIM HERMAN: Sure. 16 was, I was pretty disappointed with my approach shot there. That should have been a pretty -- that was a wheelhouse 6-iron, just start in the middle of the green and draw it in. I kind of pulled it a little bit and we thought it was just going to be in the bunker. And Matt and I, we said there's plenty of room. We saw just in the rough. Okay. We -- it's on the upslope. Got a good chance here as well. Pop it over the fringe and roll a little to the right and go in or not, but we need to save par here and move on. Yeah, go in, I think I was pretty excited on that one. The crowd went wild and I don't show much emotion out there usually, but I think I actually threw a fist pump.

Q. Were you having to hold it back a little bit?
JIM HERMAN: Yeah. When you have the lead with two holes to go, they are two hard holes, you start wondering what if, what if. You got to get back to it, head down and let's hit the next shot, not worry about, you know, the results.

Waiting on 18 was fine, you know, just ready to go. It would have been nice to get up and hit, but very proud of myself for stepping up and hitting the drive when I needed to. We kind of avoided -- didn't avoid it, but we didn't hit it all the time because we were just very confident in our 3-wood most of the last three days, four days, but hit my 3-wood really good. I learned from Henrik. He hits his 3-wood a lot. You got to put in it play. We like low stress holes. Hit my 3-wood a lot, but got to hit driver coming down the stretch on 17 and 18. I was able to split the fairway on both 17 and 18 and, you know, just -- it was nice having a 9-iron into 18 unlike previous days with 4-iron out of the bunker and hybrid on Friday.

But, yeah, once you knocked -- once I hit it on and had -- didn't have to putt up that slope and down it, just kind of down it then, you know, it wasn't a given. Sure wasn't a given. It went about half a foot by or further than I wanted. I just wanted to tap it in once I knew par was going to do it.

Q. How long was that putt?
JIM HERMAN: I don't know. Foot and a half maybe. It was definitely not 2 feet.

Q. What about the first one?
JIM HERMAN: First one was 20 feet, probably, 15, 20 feet.

Q. What did you learn from that practice round in November at Augusta National that you can apply this week?
JIM HERMAN: It's a great question. That I can get there, obviously. I found my way to play a practice round there, that's not an easy thing to do. I'm going to have to drive it better than I feel like I did. This golf course makes you a little anxious with all the hazards, and I'm going to have to drive it a little bit better than I did this week with my driver, and it's tree-lined pretty significantly tree-lined. Chip and putt. Got to chip and putt. Feel really good about my short game right now, especially my speeds on the greens. So I think that will be -- they were pretty quick in November, and it was November, so I'm sure they're going to be pretty slick this coming week.

But, I learned that it's a special place for sure. And I went and watched in 2008, I finally got on the Nationwide -- Nationwide Tour at the time, and you get free access for yourself. So I went on Saturday and watched, and pretty cool, pretty cool spot. It's going to be unreal to be on the inside of the ropes now.

Q. I just wanted to know, was there a moment during the tournament this weekend where you felt like you had the game to pull off a win?
JIM HERMAN: Yeah. I mean, you always when you tee it up, they say anyone can win. I felt pretty good with my game coming in. Coming out Friday morning and -- or Saturday morning, I had finished my Friday round, two birdies out of the four holes that I had remaining to, you know, put me in a decent spot. Got me up in the Top-10 and came out and put up a really good bogey-free Saturday. I think those four holes on Saturday morning really, you know, it was early, you just want to come in, make sure you don't do anything stupid and miss the cut.

You know, there is water in play on some of the holes and I was able to birdie 2 of my 4 to finish my round for my second round and put me in a good spot. I think that was to say the most crucial part of the early rounds.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: All right. Thank you for joining us. Congratulations again.

JIM HERMAN: Thank you. Thanks for sticking around. See y'all next week.

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