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Herman punches ticket to Masters

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HUMBLE, Tex.—Jim Herman delivered a masterful performance at just the right time yesterday in the Shell Houston Open.

Herman, winless in 105 previous starts on the PGA Tour, chipped in for birdie on the par-three 16th, then finished with two solid pars for a four-under 68 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters for the first time in his career.

Herman tapped in for par and thrust both fists in the air after his one-shot victory over Henrik Stenson.

“This is pretty unreal,” Herman said, admitting he had to go through Q-school seven times before sticking on the Tour.

“I’ve dreamt of this for long time and I’m going to enjoy it,” he added.

“I’m pretty proud of myself. [It’s] the first time I’ve ever been up there in the final group,” Herman noted.

“To be able to bring it home . . . I did really well.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was pretty low with my game,” he admitted. “I couldn’t get out of my own way.

“This never would have been possible two years ago.”

The Houston Open was the final opportunity for players to get into the Masters, and Herman seemed like a long shot at No. 191 in the world whose only professional victory was six years ago at the Moonah Classic in Australia.

Stenson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 68 to finish one shot behind.

It was the Swede’s eighth runner-up finish since his last victory in Dubai at the end of 2014.

“You can play well and still lose,” Stenson noted.

“I wasn’t given the tournament,” he stressed. “I had to play nine-under on the weekend to win it.”

Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, tried to overcome a double-bogey on the 11th hole.

He made three birdies coming in, but had to settle for a 69 to finish two shots back.

Jordan Spieth made four-straight birdies early in his round yesterday but two shots into the water led to double-bogeys and a 70.

He was seven back in a tie for 13th.

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