30 Jun 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Herbert’s recall crucial to Irish Open defence

by PGA of Australia

Lucas Herbert.

By Tony Webeck

The bunker shot to save par on 16. The roar of the appreciative Irish crowds. The sense that he has been here and done it all before. These are the memories and emotions that Lucas Herbert will tap into as he defends his Horizon Irish Open title at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny.

The second of Herbert’s two DP World Tour wins to date, his wire-to-wire win 12 months ago helped to elevate him into golf’s upper echelon and reaffirmed his sense of belonging at the highest level.

Shortly after his Irish Open triumph Herbert secured PGA TOUR status at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and in late October claimed his first PGA TOUR victory at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

Currently ranked No.48 in the world, his only top-10 since was a tie for seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but after playing the back nine on Tuesday is ready to call on the positive experiences of 12 months ago to kick-start another strong second half of the year.

“We just played nine holes and felt like a trip down memory lane for two hours, talking about all the shots, where the pins were, the crowds,” Herbert said.

“My Mum and Dad are here this year, my girlfriend, and I’m explaining what went on last year and I’m sure they don’t really care. They were watching it on TV but it felt cool taking a trip down memory lane.

“Felt like I had a period from this win through to Bermuda where I really closed out some events well, and that was probably something that I didn’t know whether I had the ability to do.

“Obviously winning here wire-to-wire, being tied for the lead with four holes to play and winning by three shots, and then closing out to get my PGA TOUR card at the Korn Ferry finals, that was a tough process, and I think we birdied four of the last six holes there to do that and.

“We get in the position on the back nine in Bermuda where it was anyone’s tournament for the taking and I felt like I drew on my Irish Open experience of taking the opportunity when I had the chance.”

Although he has missed the cut at both the Masters and US Open in recent months, Herbert’s tie for 13th at the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills is a further indicator of his prowess when the challenge is its greatest.

He is confident that he and coach Dominic Azzopardi have got all the pieces in place to contend for more success, it is simply a matter of putting them all together.

“I feel I’ve turned a little bit of a corner,” added Herbert, one of six Aussies in action in Ireland this week.

“The game feels like I have the ability to hit the shots. It’s just putting everything and the structure in place around it to produce a little bit more of that consistency.

“Been playing bigger events on harder golf courses over there in the US, and it’s pretty easy to beat yourself up.

“It would be nice to get back here and feel like we get that confidence back from last year, some good memories from this course. Hopefully that gets things back on track a little bit.”

As for that bunker shot on the 16th last year, recreating it in practice proved more difficult than Herbert imagined.

“I’ve just gone and hit it four times; I couldn’t even get it close to what I did on Sunday last year,” he added.

As the Irish Open signals the start of the countdown towards The Open at St Andrews starting July 14, seven Australians will tee it up at the John Deere Classic in Illinois chasing one of the three Open exemptions on offer.

Mark Hensby (2004) and John Senden (2006) are both past champions who are in the field at TPC Deere Run while Jason Day will be out to extend his streak of Open appearances to nine with a top-three finish.

Round 1 tee times AEST

DP World Tour Horizon Irish Open Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, Ireland 4.50pm*             Min Woo Lee, Dean Burmester, Thorbjørn Olesen 5.10pm*             Ryan Fox, Adri Arnaus, Thomas Detry 5.30pm Zach Murray, Chase Hanna, Niklas Nørgaard Moller 6.30pm*             Maverick Antcliff, Kazuki Higa, John Murphy 10pm    Lucas Herbert, Padraig Harrington, Thomas Pieters 10.20pm*           Scott Hend, Espen Kofstad, Callum Shinkwin 10.40pm             Jason Scrivener, Jorge Campillo, Francesco Laporta

Defending champion: Lucas Herbert Past Aussie winners: Brett Rumford (2004), Lucas Herbert (2021) Top Aussie prediction: Min Woo Lee TV schedule: Live 10pm-3am Thursday, Friday; Live 11pm-2.30am Saturday; Live 10pm-2.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503.

PGA TOUR John Deere Classic TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois 10.18pm*           Cam Davis, Cameron Champ, Morgan Hoffmann 10.51pm*           Mark Hensby, Kevin Streelman, Nick Watney 11.02pm             Greg Chalmers, James Hahn, Sam Ryder 11.35pm*           Brett Drewitt, Jared Wolfe, Chris Naegel 3.32am John Senden, Peter Malnati, Stephan Jaeger 3.43am Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Lanto Griffin 4.05am*             Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Percy, Jason Dufner

Defending champion: Lucas Glover Past Aussie winners: Mark Hensby (2004), John Senden (2006) Top Aussie prediction: Cam Davis TV schedule: Live 5am-8am Friday, Saturday; Live 3am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.

Korn Ferry Tour The Ascendant TPC Colorado, Berthoud, Colorado 11.03pm             Harrison Endycott, Julián Etulain, Erik Barnes 11.14pm             Rhein Gibson, Ryan Blaum, Nicolas Echavarria 4.28am Curtis Luck, Tom Lewis, Augusto Núñez 5.12am*             Nick Voke, Brad Brunner, Quade Cummins 5.45am*             Ryan Ruffels, Albin Choi, Tano Goya

Defending champion: Tag Ridings Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Curtis Luck

Portland Invitational Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Portland, Oregon Aussies in the field: Matt Jones, Blake Windred, Travis Smyth, Jed Morgan, Wade Ormsby

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Matt Jones

Challenge Tour Italian Challenge Open Golf Nazionale, Viterbo, Italy 6.10pm Daniel Hillier, Matteo Manassero, Jens Dantorp 9.40pm Dimitrios Papadatos, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez, Christopher Feldborg Nielsen 9.40pm*             Jarryd Felton, Jordi Garcia, Philip Eriksson 11.20pm             Deyen Lawson, Adam Blomme, Zheng-kai Bai

Defending champion: Ricardo Gouveia Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Dimitrios Papadatos

Ladies European Tour Amundi German Masters Golf & Country Club Seddiner See, Germany 5.58pm*             Whitney Hillier, Lydia Hall, Carmen Alonso

Defending champion: In-Kyung Kim (2016) Past Aussie winners: Karrie Webb (2013) Top Aussie prediction: Whitney Hillier TV schedule: Live 8.30pm-11.30pm Thursday on Fox Sports 506; Live 8.30pm-11.30pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 505.

PGA TOUR Canada Prince Edward Island Open Dundarave GC, Cardigan, Prince Edward Island 9.15pm*             Will Barnett, Jackson Suber, Brett Bennett 9.40pm Cameron John, Rhett Rasmussen, Chris Hickman

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners:  Nil Top Aussie prediction: Cameron John

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