Herbert – with last year’s trophy – photo Getty Images

Lucas Herbert has moved within four shots of the lead at the Irish Open at the Mount Juliet Estate in Co Kilkenny, the defending champion in a share of 11th place behind the leader Jorge Campillo of Spain as the US$ 6 million event enters the weekend.

Herbert who has focused much of his attention in the USA this season, returned to Ireland as the 48th ranked player in the world after beginning this event twelve months ago as the game’s 91st player.

The progress and elevation in standing has been more than just in world ranking given he has since earned full status on the PGA Tour, has won on that tour and consolidated his standing as not only one of the game’s brightest prospects, but he is now Australia’s third highest ranked player behind only Cameron Smith and Adam Scott.

Herbert played his opening two rounds with legendary Irish figure Padraig Harrington, a three time major winner and a winner of a senior major at last week’s US Senior Open but felt very much at home despite his ‘crowd favourite’ playing partner.

“There’s so much support here. I almost feel like an adopted Irishman this week,” said Herbert.

“It’s been great with Paddy as well. The crowd out there for him has been unbelievable.

“He holed a putt on the ninth to be safe to make the cut. The roar that came out of them was pretty incredible.

Herbert’s round today was significantly less of a roller coaster then that he produced yesterday when six birdies and eagle and five bogeys led to his opening round of 69.

That he got the favourable side of the draw did not go unnoticed by Herbert.

“Yeah, I had to pretend to be upset what I saw last night when I saw what the weather forecast looked like in the afternoon. Just luck of the draw.

“Some weeks you get, it some weeks you don’t. PGA Championship, I got the bad side of the draw. There’s times where you get the good side and the bad side and this week I got the good side.”

Round two was highlighted by greater consistency with six birdies and a double bogey for a round of 68 and he is well placed heading into the final 36 holes.

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox was unable to maintain the pace of his eight birdie opening round 64 and slipped to a  round of 73 to be tied with Herbert in 11th place. He was out in today’s more difficult afternoon conditions however and is not yet out of things.

Fox, too, has a good record in this event having finished runner-up and 4th in previous years.

Queensland’s Maverick Antcliff is tied for 36th, while both Min Woo Lee and Scott Hend both made the cut on the number.

SCORES

Ryan Fox in action this week – photo Gety Images