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WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – Jimmy Hervol was in a groove and doing his best to stay calm. The Hopkinton native and former UConn standout made birdie on his first five holes and after an eagle on the par-5 9th, made the turn with a jaw-dropping 27 during the second round of the PGA Estate 3-Day tournament in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 27.
Right up until the 18th hole, he had a chance to do what only one other player had done in the 18-year history of the Minor League Golf Tour (MGLT): shoot under 60.
But Hervol has always recognized that golf sometimes has cruel twists and that things can only go right for so long. On the 18th tee, he tried to cut a dogleg right, but the ball got caught in the wind and drifted too far right and out of play, forcing him to hit a provisional. Incredibly, he managed to make birdie on that ball but carded his lone bogey to finish with an even 60.
“It was a fun day,” Hervol reflected. “I was a little hurt in the moment. But there’s a lot of guys on the PGA TOUR who have never shot 60 in competition, so it gave me that proof that I could play on a high level.”
Since turning professional in Fall 2019, Hervol, 23, has been finding ways to take the next step in his game. Right now, the 6-foot-4 slender young man is playing on the Minor League Golf Tour, a developmental tour based in Florida that features new professionals, those in the twilight of the careers, and everybody in between.
The results are promising as 88 players who have competed on the Minor League Golf Tour have 2020 status on the PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour, most notably Brooks Koepka, who won the 2012 MLGT Tour Championship.
While these events mostly provide a competitive training ground to stay sharp for major events and Monday qualifiers (for PGA and Korn Ferry), there is a work-your-way-up system involved. Some events offer the winner $5,000 toward Qualifying School (Q-School). Jon Curran, also originally from Hopkinton, has won a pair of these events as he tries to work his way back on the PGA TOUR, where he’s finished runner-up twice previously (2015, 2016). There are also contests where bonuses are given to the winner to compete in a Korn Ferry or a PGA Tour Monday Qualifier.
Hervol, meanwhile, is working on establishing himself on a traveling tour, such as the PGA Mackenzie Tour in Canada. After falling back to a 13th-place finish in the event he shot a 60, he finished runner-up after forcing a 4-hole playoff during a two-day event earlier this month at Melreese Country Club in Miami.
Next week, Hervol will compete in a Mackenzie Tour 2021 Qualifying Tournament (February 23-26) and is eyeing Monday qualifying for the Honda Classic next month.
Before turning pro, Hervol was stellar in his amateur days, including in Mass Golf events. He won the 2015 Mass Junior Amateur, the 2018 Mass Four-Ball, and played in the final match against Steven DiLisio in the 2019 Mass Amateur Championship at The Country Club.
Even though he now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, he’s surrounded by plenty of familiar faces. He shares living quarters with other Mass natives competing in MLGT events: Matthew Naumec, Billy Walthouse and Peter French.
“We all pick each other’s brains,” Hervol said. “They know the yearly schedule, and we’re always reminding each other to sign up for this event or the other soon.”
Naumec, a former Mass Junior Amateur Champion (2014) himself, encouraged Hervol to join Mayacoo Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach.
“It’s been a hit so far,” Hervol said. “The practice facilities are great, above average for the area. The course is a challenge, especially when it’s windy. Greens are small, and fairways are tight.”
Hervol’s strength has always been off the tee. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, Hervol added about 30 yards to his drives between his freshman and seniors years at UConn, and he was already hovering around 300 yards to begin. But his full game is starting to come together thanks to a strictly-regimented routine he’s maintained during an otherwise chaotic time in the world.
On a typical non-event day, Hervol rises at 7 a.m., gets in a workout and breakfast before arriving at the course by 10. After a detailed practice routine, he likes to play 9 or 18 holes to balance out the day. Initially, Hervol said he struggled at finding the right quantity of practice reps, but now he said he’s found a way to practice properly.
The real challenge came in late March when MLGT shut down operations temporarily due to COVID-19. Hervol trekked back home to New England away from the tropical climate. But instead of being discouraged after his professional embarkation was interrupted, he rededicated himself to non-golf course training over the next six weeks.
In addition to bodyweight exercises, he also spent time in front of the mirror. But it wasn’t to show off his gains. Instead, he spent 90% of the time focused on his takeaway and backswing and instead of rolling the clubhead inside, trying to feel like the club was outside.
“A lot of the work I did during lockdown was not that entertaining or fun,” Hervol said. “All exciting parts of golf I wasn’t seeing. I just had to be patient.”
The training paid dividends for Hervol who won the Providence Open this summer by making birdie on seven of his first 11 holes in the final round, edging Notre Dame standout Davis Chatfield by a stroke. After competing in some U.S. Challenge Cup events, Hervol returned to Florida with a renewed sense of confidence.
When asked how long he wants to pursue the dream of playing professional golf, he said he’s been advised not to put a timetable on it and that he’ll know when it’s time to step away.
“The most important thing is patience,” Hervol said. “In any other career, it pays off, but in golf, you may not see it right away. But eventually, it will pay off, you just won’t know when.”
Alma Mater: Boston College
Turned Professional: 2017
Minor League Golf Wins: 2020 Sunshine State Classic (68-69-70–207); 2019 Atlantic National November Classic (63).
Best 2021 Finish: T3, Par-3 Team Trilogy.
Other Pro Accolades: 2019 U.S. Open qualifier (Missed cut in Championship Proper).
Mass Golf Accolades: 2014 Mass Golf Junior Player of the Year; 2014 Mass Junior Amateur Champion; 2016 Ouimet Memorial Tournament Champion.
Alma Mater: University of Rhode Island
Turned Professional: 2017
Minor League Golf Wins: 2019 March Fountains CC West Open (64); 2018 Fountains West 2-Day (67-67–134).
Best 2021 Finish: T4, Eagle Trace February Classic (68).
Mass Golf Accolades: Runner-up, 2017 New England Amateur; 5th, 2017 Mass Open; Semifinalist, 2017 Mass Amateur.
Alma Mater: St Thomas Aquinas College (NY)
Turned Professional: 2017
Minor League Golf Wins: 2021 Monday Qualifier Contest #1 (62); 2019 Monday Qualifier Contest #2 (65).
Mass Golf Accolades: Mass Amateur Champion (2016).
Turned Professional: 2001
Minor League Golf Wins: 2020 Sandhill Crane Holiday Classic (67); 2020 Sandhill Crane Turkey Day Classic (67); 2019 Florida Club Summer Classic (63).
Best 2021 Finish: Runner-Up, Abacoa January Classic (63).
Other Pro Accolades: Nashville City Open Champion (2016); Played on PGA Tour in spans between 2005-14.
Mass Golf/Amateur Accolades: Walker Cup (2001); U.S. Amateur, finalist (2000); Mass Amateur Champion (1996, 1998); Mass Golf Player of the Year (1996).
Alma Mater: Duke University
Turned Professional: 2018
Best Minor League Golf Finishes: T2, 2019 Annual Holiday Team Championship; 3rd, 2019 PGA Estate 2-Day.
Best 2021 Finish: 5th, Puerto Rico Open Pre Q Tune Up at Indian Spring (69).
Other Pro Accolades: Made PGA TOUR debut at the Wyndham Championship in August; Has played on PGA Tour Latinoamérica and Mackenzie Tour.
Mass Golf Accolades: 2013 Mass Golf Junior Player of the Year; 2014 Mass Amateur Semifinalist; 2016 Mass Amateur Stroke Play Medalist (set competitive course record of 7-under 64 at Taconic Golf Club).
Alma Mater: Johnson & Wales (FL)
Turned Professional: 2016
Best Minor League Golf Finishes: T2, 2019 Martin Downs February Classic (66); T2, 2017 Jacaranda West Open (69).
Best 2021 Finish: 13th, PGA Estate STABLEFORD Shootout (36)
Mass Golf/Amateur Accolades: 2015 Ouimet Memorial Tournament Champion; 2017 Vermont Open Champion.
Alma Mater: UConn
Turned Professional: 2020
Best Minor League Golf Finishes: 3rd, 2020 2nd Day Shootout (70); T5, 2020 MLGT Tour Championship (68-69–137)
Best 2021 Finish: T8, Puerto Rico Open Pre Q Tune Up at Indian Spring (71).
Mass Golf Accolades: 2018 Mass Four-Ball Champion (with Hervol); 2015 Mass Open (second low amateur).