He didn't arrive at the Honda Classic by helicopter or fire engine. Truth is, he didn't even rate a courtesy car, which on today's PGA Tour means you're as obscure as they come. Tim Herron was a nobody's nobody, a fat-cheeked rookie fill-in fresh from Q school, here only to round out the field. "When he came into the pro shop on Wednesday," says Scott Gray, the head pro at Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla., where they played the Honda last week, "I didn't even know he was a player."
Gray must not get out from behind the counter much because the next day he still didn't have a clue. And this was after Herron had blistered the much-feared Eagle Trace for a course-record-tying 62.
When Gray ran into the pleasant, chubby kid he had seen in his shop, he stopped and wondered obliviously, "Can you believe somebody shot 62 today?"
"Yeah," said Herron, "it was me."
"I was so embarrassed," Gray said later, "I didn't even want to introduce myself."
For the next time you run into him, Scott, here's the lowdown. The guy's name is Tim Herron. He's 26, from Wayzata, Minn. Hits the bejeebers out of the ball. Could be the next people's choice, like Daly. Went wire-to-wire to win easily in Coral Springs, and no rookie has done that since Nick Price.
Fact is, except for the baby fat and the goofy grin, Herron didn't look or act much like a rookie all week. Maybe that has something to do with the way they grow 'em in the great white North. You know, cool as ice, strong, sturdy Nordic types who, like Tom Lehman and 1993 U.S. Amateur champ John Harris, don't freeze up in the clutch. Normally they're late bloomers, which stands to reason since the ice-fishing season doesn't give way to spring and golf until after the first hatch of mayflies.
And Herron seems to have something special, some extra quality beyond North Country stoicism. It's more than just hitting the ball farther than John Daly.
"He's different from all the other kids," says Harris. "He doesn't know how much talent he's got. He's not made from the same cookie cutter. Being the same doesn't work out there. You've got to be different to be successful, and by different I mean unique. Tim doesn't take himself or the game too seriously. He just tries to hit it where he's looking."
Herron has always been that way, with mostly good results. He grew up in a golfing family, about a nine-iron shot away from the 5th hole at Wayzata Country Club. His paternal grandfather, Carson Lee, won state titles in Minnesota and Iowa, while his father, Carson, is the reigning club champion at Wayzata. Herron took the customary route through junior and state events. In 1988 he was the Minnesota junior player of the year. "He may look country-clubbish and spoiled," said Carson, "but he's a killer inside."