Tim Herron is an unusual place in life. He’s in his late 40s and rooting for time to fly.
“I’m looking forward to turning 50 – February 6, 2020,’’ he said. “And then I want time to really slow down.’’
Herron will gain access to the Champions Tour on that date. And then he is hoping to repeat what has been done by many previous “youngsters’’ in the PGA Tour’s senior division:
“I want to be competing well enough to take advantage of that 50-to-55 window that's there with the Champions.’’
There are the amazing exceptions, such as Hale Irwin in an earlier generation and now Bernhard Langer, but this is true for a high number of seniors: Those first five years are the best time to harvest some hay on the Champions Tour.
To get ready for the birthday that depresses a good share of the population, Herron is playing as often on the 2017-18 PGA Tour and his marginal exempt status allows.
“I’m in what they call the Veterans Category,’’ Herron said. “That doesn’t get you in often. My status should be a bit better after this weekend at Colonial.’’
What’s always been known to golf fans as the Colonial was now billed as the Fort Worth Invitational on this Memorial Day weekend. Herron was given a sponsor’s exemption, mostly because of his standing as a past champion.
“I think there was a time when the past champions were let into the Colonial field as long as they wanted to play, but that’s not the case now,’’ Herron said. “The people in Fort Worth were nice enough to give me one of their exemptions.’’
Herron won the Colonial in 2006. It was his fourth and last victory on the PGA Tour. The others had come at the Honda in 1996, the Texas Open in 1997, and at Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer’s tournament) in 1999.
He was still competitive to a degree in 2011 and 2012. The last half-dozen years haven’t been much to write home about – or even to leave home when in the field.
Herron finished fourth in the 2016 Barracuda event in Reno, Nev. That’s the last top 10, and it came in a secondary event, being held opposite the Bridgestone Invitational.
As for a weekly main event, you had to go back to the end of the 2012 season – and a ninth-place finish in the Justin Timberlake tournament – to find a top 10.
Now at age 48, plus four months, Herron almost got back there on the familiar turf of Colonial, finishing at 8-under on the par-70 track. That put him in a tie for 11th and earned $163,300. That raised his official career earnings to $19,233, 198.
He had played in five previous events on the 2017-18 overlapping schedule, missed the cut three times, and totaled $15,500 in earnings in the other two events.
“I’m in at Memphis in two weeks and then I should have three tournaments in July: Greenbrier, John Deere and the Barbasol (opposite the British Open),’’ Herron said.
The U.S. Open? “The USGA decided that I should go through local qualifying, and that didn’t work withsome things that were already on my schedule,’’ he said.
The man called “Lumpy’’ was always a popular figure, both for his Everyman’s appearance and his one-liners. He offered another of those on Friday, after going 66-70 to make the 36-hole cut with no problem.
“Welp, making the cut totally screws up my plans to sealcoat the driveway this weekend,’’ was his offering on Twitter -- @PGALumpy.
Asked about the veracity of this, Lumpy laughed and said: “We were going to have the driveway sealcoated this weekend, but I wasn’t going to do it myself. We had a crew. I was going to supervise.’’
The driveway work started with a need to add room for another vehicle, now that oldest son Carson is about to turn 16 and get a driver’s license. Carson is named for his grandfather, the patriarch of the Herron golfing family. Young Carson played as a freshman for the Minnetonka Skippers this spring.
“He’s all into golf,’’ Tim said. “The twins, Mick and Patrick, are 12 and playing all sports.’’
Herron said his solid week could have been better if he rolled the ball more consistently on the familiar Colonial greens. “I had a bunch of three putts,’’ he said. “I hit the ball really well all week. I had the only eagle of the tournament on the long par-5.’’
He hit a 324-yard drive down the middle, and then ripped a 3-wood an official 292 yards to within 7 ½ feet of the cup.
Herron said on Saturday: "I ran it up kind of, hit a low burner. I knew I couldn’t fly it there, so I was trying to get it up in front … probably got a good kick off the down slope and got it there."
He added to the explanation on his Twitter account: “It’s no coincidence that I ate a Zagnut after 10.’’
This was more shocking than being the only person in the field at Colonial to make eagle on the hole of roughly 610 yards. He’s now the only person in my lifetime that I’ve known to admit he will eat a Zagnut candy bar.