The last time the U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst, Tiger and Lumpy came down the stretch together. Tiger Woods and Tim (Lumpy) Herron were near the lead on Sunday when Woods turned to his playing partner and said, "Let's hang in there, man. We can win this thing." ¬†They didn't--Woods tied for third, two shots behind Payne Stewart, and Herron finished sixth--but the guy other pros call Lump learned to admire Woods's guts and also discovered that Tim Herron could contend in the toughest tournament on earth.
Lumpy's Dream Round
Herron isn't the type to obsess over a course or tournament. He preps for the majors by "staying relaxed." But he does daydream about what might happen if everything went right at Pinehurst No. 2.
TIM 'N' TIGER
"It's awesome to play with Tiger," Herron says. "A lot better than playing right ahead of him--that's when you get his huge gallery jostling for position." Herron first met Woods during the 1992 U.S. Amateur at Muirfield Village, where he thumped the younger player 6 and 4--one of only two losses Woods suffered in 23 U.S. Amateur matches. ("Of course I was in college, and he was 15," says Herron.) They have often been paired since. "He's a regular guy. He calls me Tim," Herron adds. "We talk sports and needle each other."
How can mortal pros beat Woods? "You've got to have what he has: confidence, the belief that you can win. That's the thing about Tiger, just as much as his talent: his heart and guts. The fight in him. He never gives up. I heard commentators saying the Masters is the only major he can win now, because you don't have to drive it straight. But you know what? They've made Augusta National pretty tight, and it's flat-out amazing how he can still score when he's hitting it sideways. He's the ultimate golfer."
"Lumpy wouldn't be my first choice," says the 5'10", 230-pound Herron, "but if I act like I hate it, people will use it even more. So yes, I'm fine with it." Maybe it's time to dump Lumpy and try one of these:
It wasn't simply the brutal conditions at last year's U.S. Open that sickened Herron at Shinnecock Hills. He thinks he was bitten by a deer tick there. He came down with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that struck hardest while he was in Royal Troon for last year's British Open. "I went to seven doctors in Scotland, and they were mystified," he says. "They had never seen Lyme disease."
A feel player, like his pals Fuzzy Zoeller (left) and John Daly, Herron avoids long, regimented sessions on the practice green. At Pinehurst he'll practice lag putts from off the greens, and rap in short ones until he feels he'll never miss. "Fuzzy told me, 'If you're missing five-footers, don't practice from five feet. Hit three-footers and make 'em. If you're missing three-footers, hit one-footers. You need to see the ball go in the hole.' Weekend players ought to try that too."
Breakfast of the '99 Bay Hill Champion
"I'm not a huge eater," Herron says. To begin each day at Pinehurst, he'll have: Two scrambled eggs, wheat toast, a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, Diet Coke.
Here's how Herron ranks Open courses from 2004 through the end of the decade
1. Pebble Beach (2010) "One of the best ever. Hey, it's Pebble."
2. Pinehurst (2005) "Tough and demanding, especially if it's hot and muggy. You get wet out there--I'll change gloves over and over. The course works on you. It's tiring. When I get asked which holes jump out, I say they all do."
3. Winged Foot (2006) "Not long, but it'll hold its own. Winged Foot is one of the classics."
4. Shinnecock (2004) "Another classic. A favorite of mine, even if they did let the greens burn and I got Lyme disease."
5. Bethpage (2009) "A great, long, really neat course. You get a different kind of fan there--loud--but I like New Yorkers. They sure love their sports."
6. Oakmont (2007) "I've never played there, but it's supposed to be good, so I'm sure I'll like it better than Torrey Pines."
7. Torrey Pines (2008) "A good course messed up. I don't like the redesign [by Rees Jones in 2001]. Golf is supposed to reward good shots or at least decent shots. Now you can hit a ball to the middle of the green and have it bounce into a ditch or over a cliff."
What's in the Bag?
•Driver - 9 1/2-degree TaylorMade r7 Quad, with the 10-gram weights in back and the two-gram weights in front for high trajectory
•Three-wood - 14-degree Ping TiSI Tec (headcover with logo of his alma mater, New Mexico)
•Hybrid - 16-degree TaylorMade Rescue Mid ("I put a two-iron shaft on it," says Herron. "A lot of guys use graphite shafts, but I want it to feel like an iron.")
•Three Sharpies for signing the cards
•One bottle of drinking water
•Burt's Bees lip balm and Sudafed
•Manhole cover (quarter) markers
•One pack of Eclipse chewing gum. ("My caddie loves it.")
•Wedges - 54-degree Titleist Vokey, Ping Eye2 PW, 60-degree Cleveland 900
•Putter - Scotty Cameron T
•A dozen Upper Deck golf cards of Herron ("They're for kids who ask for autographs.")
•Two dozen white tees
•Nine to 12 Titleist Pro V1x balls, numbers 1 through 4 only, marked with a black dot at the top-left corner of the first T in Titleist
•Buddha ("My nephew Cole gave me that.")
•Irons - Ping Eye2 ¬†(three through nine-iron)
•Not for the Open The knife is only for the Colonial and Scotland
Tim's Pinehurst Picks
•"I'm confident going into the Open. Not cocky, but confident," Herron says. "I can see myself contending."
•David Toms "Hits it straight, and he's a great putter. A tough customer. He'll be on the leader board."
•Tiger Woods "You have to give him respect. With his great short game, he always has a shot at the Open."
•Vijay Singh "The way he's been going the last couple of years, you know he'll be in the mix."
•Stewart Cink "He's played well in U.S. Opens. A great sleeper pick."
•Tim Herron "Why not?"
"I'm confident going into the Open. Not cocky, but confident," Herron says. "I can see myself contending."
OTHER STUFF IN THERE
• 10 new gloves
• Several skanky used gloves ("We have to get those out of there.")
• One black leather pouch for Herron's watch, Burt's Bees lip balm and Sudafed and Zicam cold remedies
• One rain suit for Herron. One rain cover for his bag
• One lucky rock ("another nephew gift")
Photographs By DARREN CARROLL
COURTESY OF TIM HERRON (SCORECARD)
TWO COLOR PHOTOS
An awesome playing partner
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA/DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY (TICK)
The cause of Tim's illness
STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (PEBBLE BEACH)
Can't wait for 2010 and Pebble Beach
GREG FOSTER (BREAKFAST)
This chow at The Carolina is a no-no
TEN COLOR PHOTOS