05 Feb 2020 | Vic Open | Professional golf |
Confident Herbert embraces change
- By Rod Morri
A maiden win in a prestigious tournament means big changes for a professional golfer and for Lucas Herbert, it’s been no different.
His victory at the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago moved him to second on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings and a different category professionally, but the biggest shift may actually be personal.
Herbert has never been short on confidence. In fact, in the eyes of many, he has often come across as cocky.
But that cocky edge might just be disappearing as the genuine confidence gained from winning on a difficult golf course in an important tournament makes the attitude surplus to requirements.
At his press conference yesterday ahead of this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open the 24-year-old was still clearly not lacking self-belief but there was less strut and more substance about it.
“It always felt like I was good but wasn't good enough to win,” he said. “And it's not until you actually do that that you actually prove to yourself that you are good enough to win.
“Within myself, not to anyone else around me, but it's more with myself like ‘Okay, yeah, I am good enough to win’, especially given that I was not handed that at all.
“I had to go and earn that win. It wasn't like I won in a playoff where the other guy hit three in the water and it was shaking hands after two shots. So that's a big thing, I think.”
Herbert has been on the radar at the top levels in Australia since finishing T11 at the 2014 Australian Masters as an amateur.
He grabbed the third-round headlines that year with a course record 65 at Metropolitan Golf Club before driving overnight to Monday qualify for the following week’s Australian Open.
After turning professional he proved his mettle in 2018 when he started the season with no status on any world tour and played his way to full European Tour membership.
Fast forward to 2020 and with the lessons learned along the way has come new-found maturity both on and off the course, the benefits in his play obvious from his results.
“It's one of those things,” he said when asked the difference between the talented rookie professional and the now successful, more seasoned player.
“I'm 24 now, maybe a little bit more mature. I don't know that that's a really big problem with myself because it wasn't hard to be more mature than 22-year-old Lucas.
“But a couple of extra years under my belt, a few more finishes, a bit longer out on the road of seeing what's going on and learning about myself as well. I think that's probably where I'm different. And hopefully we're sitting here in two years’ time having the same conversation and going, yeah, I'm way better than that 24-year-old Lucas as well.”
In terms of his golf Herbert has every right to be confident ahead of the opening round tomorrow after blistering the Beach Course in ‘about 10-under’ in Wednesday’s pro-am. Playing in his home state and home Open will bring its own pressures this week but his best result of T6 in 2017 suggests he has the tools to contend.
“The Vic Open, I think it was the second tournament, second professional tournament I ever played,” he said.
“It's obviously my state home open, so I mean, yeah, to win at home would be something different from winning overseas with everyone else around. It would be pretty cool to win this week, but it's one of those things like it actually, it is quite difficult to come home and play, and I think a lot of players feel that when they go and play back at home.
“To go and play in their home country can be quite tough because there is obviously quite a lot more expectation, quite a lot more pressure on you to play well. You're expected to play a lot better.”
He readily admitted he will be feeling that pressure but is adamant he is not here just to make up the numbers.
“The challenge for me this week is just going to be try and make sure to keep a level head and not get ahead of myself, not expect too much of myself,” he said.
“I don't turn up to any tournament just there to kind of enjoy or celebrate at all. You want to win every event you tee it up in. I'm definitely not here this week for a bit of a party with my friends.”
Should he get across the line, expect that to change Sunday night.
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