LA JOLLA, Calif. — Life as a professional golfer has been a grind for Hopkinton native Jimmy Hervol since he turned pro two years ago.
He mostly plays on the Minor League Tour in Florida, where his win at the Winter Indian Spring in March netted him a grand total of $3,000. The pandemic prevented him from competing much last summer. This fall, Hervol plans to play in the new Forme Tour, another minor league circuit. A spot on the PGA Tour is still not quite within reach.
“Haven’t done anything too crazy, but it’s all about experience,” Hervol, 23, said Wednesday.
This week’s event is a little different. At 8:57 a.m. Thursday, Hervol will take the 10th tee at Torrey Pines South Course for the 121st US Open. His competition will be 156 of the top golfers in the world. The winner will take home $2.25 million and earn a spot in golf history.
“It’s almost like a baseball player who starts the season in the minors, and all of a sudden you’re in the starting lineup for the Red Sox in the World Series,” said David Lane, the head pro at Hopkinton Country Club and one of Hervol’s first coaches.
Hervol qualified for this Open by shooting 5 under par over 36 holes in Purchase, N.Y., finishing second among 79 golfers. Overall, 66 golfers out of 9,069 entrants qualified for this year’s championship.
“I’m super grateful to have the opportunity, but just have to treat it like another tournament,” said Hervol, who is paired with two other qualifiers. “Granted, it is a little different with all these players around and a bunch of people, but do your best to stay calm, stay loose, and treat it like you normally would.”
Hopkinton, best known as the starting line of the Boston Marathon, is quickly becoming known for producing golfers. Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, finished his scholastic career at Hopkinton High, and Jon Curran, a 12-year pro and Hopkinton native, has started two majors, including the 2010 US Open.
Now comes Hervol, who learned the game at Hopkinton CC and was a three-time captain at Hopkinton High.
“He was basically a second coach on the team, and he’s one of the best I’ve ever had as far as the leadership,” said Dick Bliss, now retired as Hopkinton’s golf coach after 40 years. “I had Keegan Bradley and Jonny Curran — both played in the US Opens and former students — and now with Jimmy, he’s kind of following their footsteps. So it’s quite a thrill.”
Tall and lanky, Hervol’s strength is his distance off the tee, but his coaches note that he is a diligent worker in all aspects of his game. He thrived as an amateur, winning the 2015 Massachusetts Junior Amateur and finishing second at the 2019 Massachusetts Amateur. He also was a two-time captain at UConn and one of the greatest golfers in school history, and turned pro shortly after graduation.
Though Hervol has yet to break through for a PGA Tour event, he has steadily progressed throughout his career, culminating in this week’s US Open. In late March, Hervol shot a 60 at a Minor League Golf event at PGA National in Florida, and might have shot 59 if not for a tee shot that went out of bounds on the 18th hole.
Hervol lives in Florida in the winter, but came back to Massachusetts in early May and has been playing Hopkinton CC over the last six weeks.
“He’s just had this nice, steady progression,” said Lane. “I’ve seen him have a couple bad rounds here and there, and he just keeps trucking. That’s one of his strengths — he’s had some bad rounds, and he just kind of shrugs it off and keeps going.”
Hervol probably won’t be seen often on the NBC broadcast, but he’ll have plenty of fans following along from home. He also will have a nice gallery at Torrey Pines, with his parents, girlfriend, uncle, sister, and college coach all set to follow him around the course. On the bag will be Doug Brown, a close family friend and fellow Hopkinton CC member.
Brown, who is in technology sales in California, caddied for Hervol throughout qualifying, and had no qualms about asking for a little more time off to work the US Open.
“I think it’s a blast for both of us,” Brown said. “Jimmy’s game is fantastic right now. My goal is just to keep him calm, and obviously it’s a tough course out here. But he’s playing great, and he can hit it just as good as everyone out here.”