Herbert has drive to win

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 08-Dec-2017

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Lucas Herbert returned to Bendigo this week. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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LUCAS Herbert is very much the determined sort.

He has been widely touted as one of the next big things in Australian golf, but he is as focussed on not letting the sport rule his life as he is on being successful in it.

Growing up he hoped to be the next captain of the Western Bulldogs during the footy season and during summer the next Ricky Ponting or Steve Smith.

Being the absolute best at whatever he turns his mind to has always driven him.

So naturally he is much the same on the golf course.

He returned home to Bendigo this week after perhaps the busiest, and best, three weeks of his young career.

First came a runner-up finish to Jason Scrivener at the New South Wales open, though a distant one six shots behind the runaway winner.

The following week he went to the Australian Open and enjoyed more success, leading early on the final day before slipping back to a more than meritorious sixth.

Last weekend he tackled Royal Pines at the Australian PGA Championship, a second round 73 splitting three rounds of 68 as he finished tied for seventh with defending champion Harold Varner III.

After setting himself a goal of two top-five finishes through the three-week stretch, he averaged a fifth-place finish.

Along the way he endured what most would think was a disappointing finish at the Australian Open when he carded a few untimely bogeys, but Herbert can only see the positives.

“People asked me how I would respond from that, I honestly didn’t think I needed to,” he said.

“I had a few bogeys which I’d like back, but I put myself in a good position to win it.

“I knew I had (playing partner) Jason Day covered when I made a birdie at seven and thought I’d be clear. But I looked at the leaderboard and saw that all these other guys had been shooting low scores.

“That sort of opened my eyes to the fact I had to do a bit more, and unfortunately I just couldn’t do it down the stretch. But I thought it was all pretty positive really.”

Playing with the former world number one-ranked Day also has its advantages, as Herbert now knows “he doesn’t have anything that I don’t”.

It continues a habit of performing well at major Australian events for the Neangar Park product, crucial as he aims to progress through the ranks.

The prizemoney certainly doesn’t go astray, given the world of being an up-and-coming golfer isn’t as glamorous as many would imagine.

Herbert is certainly aware when it comes to those challenges and how to handle them.

“I think a few of us do a good job of getting the little bit of glamour that there is into our instagram feeds and things like that,” he said.

“People like Sergio Garcia (whom Herbert played with in the final round at Royal Pines) fly everywhere in their private jets. Meanwhile there’s plenty of us trying to save for an economy ticket to the next tournament.

“It can be a lonely place at times, when you sit back on a Saturday night after missing the cut and no one really wants to hang out and you probably don’t feel like it either.

“It can be pretty hard to maintain relationships and friendships and things like that.

“But of course when it’s going well it’s all good.”

That didn’t stop him celebrating his success, and his 22nd birthday this week.

“When you do go well, when things go right, you do have to celebrate it,” he said.

Herbert clearly has the golfing world in front of him, but like everything believes balance is key.

“I could be one of those guys that needs to work 12 hours a day and treats it like a job,” he said.

“I don’t want to be. I could devote all my time to it, and then look back after my career and find that I hadn’t actually allowed myself to have some pretty important life experiences along the way.

“I could not drink, not have much fun outside of golf and maybe be more successful than I would be otherwise. But I think you’re also losing in that scenario.

“I want to play on the PGA Tour and I’d like to be there in three years. But if it takes 10, that’s okay.”

Next week he travels to Indonesia to play, followed by a well-deserved two-week break. From there he’ll have trips to Singapore, China, Perth and New Zealand to start the new year.

Accumulation is the name of the game, as he tries to play his way through the various qualifying schools for tours around the world.

“With finishing seventh in the order of merit, I’ll get some good opportunities with Q schools so I should get to the second stage of most of them which will be a lot easier financially and you don’t have to play as much,” he said.

“I should get the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, where they play three rounds – one at Carnoustie, one at St Andrews and one at Kingsbarns.

“With management and me getting the scone on TV recently, hopefully I’ll be able to get some invites to events there too.”

If his recent form is anything to go by, a lot of that TV time will come on the final day of tournaments, with Herbert closing in on that elusive win in a major.

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