After a poor weekend at Harding Park during the PGA Championship, Jim Herman started the Wyndham Championships by missing four straight fairways. He told his caddy that it was going to be a short week if they didn’t get it straightened out. Sixty-eight holes later, Herman was holding the Wyndham Championships trophy.
Better yet, Herman moved himself from well outside the top-125 to 54th in the FedEx Cup Standings, not only qualifying him for the playoffs this upcoming week, but likely qualifying him for the BMW Championships next week.
Herman’s one shot victory over Billy Horschel was the third of his career and helped alleviate a poor year thus far where he had made just seven cuts in 18 events. Herman shot 61 and 63 over the weekend, catapulting him from just barely making the cut at 5-under to a winning score of 21-under. World No. 6 Webb Simpson finished in a tie for third while Brooks Koepka missed the cut.
We take a look at four of the most pressing questions from the past week and we look ahead towards the first playoff event, The Northern Trust Open.
“FORE” Questions from the Wyndham Championships
1. What Did Herman’s Win Tell Us?
Simply that it doesn’t take much to turn it around. Herman talked a lot in his post-round interview about the mental aspect of the game and how once he was able to get confidence in himself, he started playing great. For many golfers, that’s all it is. It may seem like a huge gap to be 21-under par and, well, say 5-over, but it really isn’t. Herman said he made just one minor swing adjustment and next thing you know he was making birdies. Much of the credit goes to his putter which was out of control. He made over 430-feet of putts during the week.
Herman also credited a practice round he had with President Trump three weeks prior in New Jersey to aiding him in his win. Herman’s other two wins came just after a practice round with the President as well. Herman worked at Trump Bedminister Golf Club prior to becoming a PGA professional and frequently played golf with Trump. The two remain close friends.
Getting to one win is a breakthrough. Getting to two wins shows the first win was no fluke. But getting to three wins puts you in a different category on the PGA Tour. It illustrates you’re a winner and have the confidence to do it week in and week out if you put your mind to it.
2. What Does the Masters Lose Most with No Spectators?
The Masters announced this week that there Championship in November will be held without fans…er, I mean patrons. There is no tournament that will be affected more. It’s not only going to make things strange on television watching the Championship in November, it’s going to affect the players. Perhaps the biggest impact will be players not knowing what’s going on during the back 9 on Sunday when roars are usually a telling sign when something big occurred. For instance, last year, Brooks Koepka said you knew every time Tiger made a birdie. You didn’t need to look at the leaderboard. You heard it.
The roars are what help make The Masters. Hearing them when Jack made his charge on Sunday in ‘86 and when Ernie and Phil went at it in different groups in ‘04 and when Tiger fired his 8-iron within a foot on the par-3 16th a year ago were some of the greatest moments in history. Imagine those moments in silence? It’s hard to fathom. But for one year…well, hopefully, just one year…Augusta will be played with nothing but the birds chirping. It truly will be a week unlike any other.
3. Three weeks or four weeks for the FedEx Playoffs?
I like three. I think four was one week too many. Guys would burn out fast, even with a week off towards the end of the four-week run. This year it makes more sense than ever with a U.S. Open still looming on the horizon and the virus still as strong as ever, complicating travel. If I could make any changes, I would cut the players able to get into the playoffs down to the top-100 with the top-50 getting into the final two events and then top-30 for the Tour Championship. But I feel going to three has only made the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs stronger and more interesting.
4. Who Has the Most Work to Do in the Playoffs?
Brooks Koepka. The four-time major champion is 97th in the FedEx Standings and if he doesn’t have a good week next week, his season will be over and he can start preparing for the U.S. Open next month. His play of late should obviously concern him most. Not only did he crumble on Sunday at the PGA Championship, he was down near the bottom of the leaderboard at The Wyndham. Koepka will likely need a top-10 finish to make it past next week. Jordan Spieth also needs to make some magic happen this week. He is in 100th place.
Also in danger are Louis Oosthuizen who is in 98th place, Rickie Fowler who sits in 88th place, and Tommy Fleetwood who is in 89th. Only the top-70 advance to the BMW Championships. After that, the top-30 make it to the final week at The Tour Championship for the ultimate prize of $15 million.
Tiger Woods will be in the field next week as well. He currently sits at 49th, all but securing him for the BMW next week. Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sungjae Im make the top-5.