Lucas Herbert with his Irish Open trophy – Photo Getty Images
Australian Lucas Herbert has not only won his second European Tour title and his second as a professional, but his victory today at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet Estate in County Kilkenny has earned the 25-year-old Victorian a start at the Open Championship at Royal St Georges in two weeks’ time.
Herbert extended his 54-hole margin of one to an eventual three shot win with a final round of 68 but having led the event from his opening round of 64, Sunday provided plenty of drama as he fought off a number of early challengers and his own demons during the final round.
Herbert birdied his second and third holes to open up a three-shot lead but a bogey at the 5th and strong challenges from American Johannes Veerman, Scotland’s Grant Forrest and eventual runner-up Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, kept the result in doubt until late in the day.
Herbert was unable to build on the early momentum and made the turn in 35 but as the challenges began to fade he would birdied the 10th, 15th and 17th to put the result beyond doubt.
He did well to maintain his lead through the middle of his round where he lost control of his tee shots, in fact he was lucky to find his ball on a couple of occasions, but he dug deep to steady the ship over the closing holes to win for the first time since his win in Dubai in February of 2020 and just his second win in his nearly five year professional career.
Until this week, Herbert’s 91st place world ranking was unable to earn a place in the Open Championship field but the leading four players this week not otherwise exempt to Royal St Georges now have a ticket to the big show on July 15th. It will be Herbert’s second Open Championship and his 7th major appearance.
Herbert earns €484,000 ($A765,000) and will move just outside the top 50 in the world ranking – his highest ever.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Herbert. “It’s just so – it’s a bit fulfilling, really. I felt like I was at one of my low points in my life when I played here two years ago at Lahinch in the Irish Open, and now to feel like I’ve done full swing and come back around and won the event that I was at a pretty low point at, it’s pretty satisfying. I’m very happy standing here right now.
“Obviously chip-out on seven and then make that really nice putt for par. And then just scrambled all the way down eight and made that; that could have been the turning point of the day, if those two putts don’t go in, you make two bogeys. To keep that card really clean out there and not come back to the field and give them a chance, I’m happy about that.
“And later the bunker shots on 15 and 16, I felt like I scrambled so nicely all day. I didn’t feel like I holed a lot of putts yesterday, so to feel I holed the putts today, so good, so good.
“A lot of soul searching out there. Trying to go back through anything that me and the coach have worked on before, and I lost one right there on five. So I played around with a couple of feels and they didn’t work. I hit one down 12, and I said to myself, that’s the one – stick with that feel the rest of the round, and I did. And it felt like we were back to where we were at yesterday.”
The next best of the Australians was Jason Scrivener who continued his very good season when he tied for 9th, while Min Woo Lee finished 17th.
The European Tour now heads to Scotland for the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick.