Lucas Herbert – wins first event – Getty Photos
Twelve months ago Victorian Lucas Herbert finished 7th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic which suggested a good year might lie ahead.
Since then, however, there had not been one top ten anywhere – until today that is.
The 24 year old not only recorded his first top ten in the last twelve months, he broke through for his first European Tour title with a playoff victory in the event at the Emirates Golf Club, defeating South African Christiaan Beizudenout with a birdie at the second extra hole.
The win was Herbert’s first on a recognised tour anywhere although he has been close to winning previously having finished inside the top 3 on seven occasions in events in Europe and Australia.
Herbert secures a cheque for the equivalent of $A795,000 and moves from outside the top 230 in the world ranking to inside the top 80.
He becomes the second Australian to win the event in its 31 year history, joining fellow Victorian Richard Green who also won in a playoff when defeating Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam in 1997.
Herbert’s final round of 68 was, along with Bezuidenhout’s, the best of the day and one of only 14 under par on a day where stormy, windy conditions prevailed.
Herbert had teed off over an hour ahead of the final group and perhaps benefited from the slightly earlier tee time but after a bogey at the first hole he played beautifully all day in the increasingly difficult conditions, birdies at his final two holes setting up a lengthy wait to see if the score he and Bezuidenhout (who finished ten minutes earlier) had set would be enough.
“The last ten minutes feel like I’ve been dreaming,” said Herbert in his post event media conference.
“It’s so weird. It’s awesome. It’s just the best thing ever. It is so good. We’ve got a bottle of Scotch at home to celebrate, so I can’t wait to get into that with the boys.
“Last week, I was probably like 20th going into the weekend, and probably like for the tenth time in the last 12 months seemed to just back it out and finish at the back of the field.
“We got really frustrated so put in some really good tactics this week with my mental coach, Jamie Glazier, trying to be positive and a lot of positive stuff. It’s so cliché but it works so much. I felt so confident out there and just felt like good golf was going to come.
“I spoke to him (Glazier) just before the play-off, and we talked about the fact that I hit some really poor shots out there today.
“I know everyone back home is going to be still up, and obviously there’s some pretty awful stuff happening right now in Australia with the fires; and Cam Smith sort of said it a couple weeks ago when he won, and I’d like to say the same thing.
“Everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on the first play-off hole. That’s nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers putting out the fires. Sending all my love back home and hope everyone is well, and thanks for the support.”
Spain’s Adri Arnaus and Dean Burmester tied for 3rd two shots from the playoff.
Third round leader Ashun Wu and his nearest pursuer through 54 holes Bryson DeChambeau struggled and eventually finished 6th and 8th respectively.
New Zealander Ryan Fox finished 30th and West Australian Jason Scrivener was 58th.
The European Tour now moves to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi International.