Thursday, March 30, 2017

Herman leads Valspar; Stenson 2 back

Jim Herman, a little-known pro with well-known friends, lit up the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook on Thursday, shooting a 9-under 62 to take a two-shot lead in the first round of the Valspar Championship. Here’s how things stand after 18 holes at Palm Harbor, Fla.

Leaderboard: Herman (-9), Russell Henley (-7), Henrik Stenson (-7), James Hahn (-6)

What it means: Herman has made only five cuts in 10 starts this season, with a best finish of T-10 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. That was his first top-10 finish on Tour since his win at the 2016 Shell Houston Open.

Round of the day: Herman started on the back nine and made five birdies in his first nine holes, including a birdie-3 at the par-4 16th, one of the Snake Pit holes. After turning in 30, he birdied four of his first five holes on his second nine before parring the rest of the side.

Best of the rest: Henley and Stenson both shot 7-under 64. Like Herman, both started on the back nine. After starting with a bogey, Henley birdied six of his next seven holes to turn in 30, but he cooled off on the front, making just two birdies. Stenson birdied four of his first six holes, then added three birdies on the front.

Biggest disappointment: Kevin Na, who had two top-20 finishes in his previous three events, opened with a 75.

Shot of the day: Jason Dufner holed out from 189 yards for eagle on the par-4 third hole.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Most eyes will be on Herman, a former club pro at one of Donald Trump’s courses. But Stenson, who had to withdraw last week from the WGC-Mexico Championship with a stomach bug, is worth keeping an eye on, too.

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