21 Sep 2020 | Professional golf |
Gallant Aussies fight to the end
by Mark Hayes
The numbers aren’t glamorous, but the Aussies were gallant today as the US Open finished as the torture test many had predicted.
Lucas Herbert continued to ride his steep major championship learning curve to end as the leading Australian at 12 over in a share of 31st.
And while his closing two-over-par 72 isn’t something you’d write home about on face value, it lifted him past a swag of players who couldn’t deal with the demands of Winged Foot with a breeze and a chill in the air.
Herbert played arguably the shot of the final day when he rifled a 5-wood into the wind to within 1m on the 230m par-3 third.
That birdie set him on train to remain under par all the way until the 15th hole, when three consecutive bogeys dropped him a few pegs.
But, along with compatriots Cam Smith and Jason Day, it was the round’s equal eighth best score.
“Under par is unbelievable golf there,” said Herbert, whose feat is even more impressive given he’s been consigned to practice in the United States in preparation without PGA Tour status.
For the record, only champion Bryson DeChambeau finished better than par in round four, his remarkable 67 paving the way for a six-shot romp at six under in total, the only man in red figures.
In his fifth major championship, Herbert’s result was comfortably his best, topping his 51st at the 2018 Open at Carnoustie.
“It’s a step forward for sure,” he said.
“It’s more learning playing major championships – both how to manage my own preparations and game as well as how to navigate tough, penalising golf courses.”
Smith was also exceptional for the majority of his round.
He made a rare birdie on the first, one of just four eagles on the ninth, and turned a remarkable three under par for his round.
With another birdie on the 11th, he still was one under when he strode to the 16th tee until a pulled drive set in train a calamity around the green that ended in a triple-bogey seven.
Still, his 72 was enough for a 14-over finish and a share of 38th with Day, who ended with in the same manner.
Day was also fantastic in being square for the day until the 16th, but two late bogeys highlighted the course’s relentless challenge.
Asked what the toughest stretch of the course was, Day could only make a joke: “Walking to the first tee. You have to play the 18 holes.
“It's really firm, and the greens are quick, and they've got some bounce to them, too, which is nice. The wind is kind of switching around a little bit out there today, … so it's really difficult to judge what the ball is going to do in the air. You've got to stay committed.”
Adam Scott finished a frustrating week with a 74 to fall to back to his fellow Queenslanders at 14 over.
Scott maintained all week that he’d hit the ball well, but had struggled to get his rounds going early.
A quick look at his cards will confirm that fact; Scott played the first five holes a combined 11 over for the week.
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