Ahead of his first appearance at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, 22 year old Lucas Herbert wrote this week's Player Blog, discussing his rise to the European Tour and his ambitions for the future.
“Hey Lucas, would you be interesting in writing a Player Blog for us.”
“Sure, what do you want me to write about?
“It’s up to you. Just tell people where you’re from and something interesting about you.”
It’s true. I’m a country kid from Australia and growing up there was a guy at my home club that looked just like Robert Rock. We would call him Robby and because of that I became a fan of the real Robert Rock. His swing, the way he dresses, the fact he doesn’t wear a hat, I just thought he was cool and I would follow him on TV. I actually met him this year for the first time and it was cool to tell him the story and let him know he has a fan club in Bendigo.
As for how I got on the European Tour and met Robert Rock, that starts a couple of years ago. Growing up in Oz I played a lot of amateur golf and when I turned pro it seemed a natural progression to play on the Australian Tour. I played there for the last three years and finished eighth on the Order of Merit last year. That got me into the European Tour events in Perth, Fiji and Scotland. A little later, when I finished in the top ten at the Singapore Open, it got me into The Open and I decided it was worth giving it a crack and building a schedule on the European Tour in 2018.
It’s been a wild and amazing ride.
Luckily for me, my first European Tour start of the year was in Perth in Western Australia. It’s a course I really like and I had a great week. I lost to Kiradech in the semi-final of the knock-out section and he went on to win. I was gutted not to make the final in front of a home crowd but a third place finish really kicked off my year and gave me the confidence, and cash, to move forward with the new schedule.
Someone reminded me that my Instagram bio says “using golf as an excuse to see the world” and that pretty much sums up how it’s been this year. I’ve been to Oman, New Zealand, China, Belgium, Sicily, Germany, Scotland, Fiji, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and Denmark. And those are just the ones I can remember for now.
The Czech Republic stands out. Prague was awesome, it’s become one of my favourite cities. The tournament is near the centre of town and getting into the city each night to have dinner and try the beer was pretty cool. The architecture, the streets, the people, it’s just different to what I grew up with Australia and it’s nice that I get to see places like that as part of my job.
Portugal was also really nice. It’s the first time I was in the lead in an event on the European Tour. I shot 63 on Thursday to lead and then had a two-shot lead heading into the final round. Sunday didn’t go great but it was great to get the buzz of being in contention like that. The following week, I went down the coast of Portugal on holiday and it was beautiful. It wasn’t hard to take my mind off what had happened in that final round.
That buzz is why I play. It doesn’t matter if you’re a junior in contention of your local monthly competition, or a pro trying to win a European Tour event, the feelings are the same. The pressure you feel inside when it means something to you. It’s addictive. It’s like a drug. Once you get a taste of it, you just want more and you keeping doing whatever you can to get more. It doesn’t matter if you have three or four back weeks in a row, if you get one where your in contention, it makes it worth it.
The only thing you can do when you get in those situations is to trust yourself and try and relate to similar moments you’ve experienced in the past. For me, I learnt a lot from playing with Jason Day at the Australian Open last year.
I was nine under after two days and got paired with Jason on Saturday. I honestly barely slept a wink on Friday night, I was so nervous. Obviously, he’s a huge name in Oz and the crowds were four or five deep the whole way round. I hadn’t ever really experienced that kind of attention and saw it as an opportunity to challenge myself and see if I could compete with the best in the world. We ended up playing together on Saturday and Sunday and by midway through the final round I had gotten pretty used to the pressure and was proud of the way I played and handled myself. I didn’t win but it was a huge learning experience and one that I’ve thought about a lot since.
Another learning experience this year was playing the US Open and The Open. I had never played a Major before and having qualified for Carnoustie in Singapore, I then Monday qualified for the US Open. To be honest, my goals this year didn’t really involve the Majors, so it was a bonus to get to play both.
Both were very different.
Shinnecock was hard. So hard. It was difficult to get a judging of how everyone played because the course was playing so brutal that week. You want to play in those events and see how to stack up against the best but that week didn’t seem like a good place to do that. It was certainly an interesting week to play your first Major.
The Open was a lot better. I saw the best guys and what the best scores were, and I felt like, hey, I'm not that far away from that realm. That was probably the biggest take away from the week. I didn't play the way I would have liked but I learnt so much. I tried to watch a lot of telecasts and see how the guys are playing holes versus how I was playing them. That sort of thing and that was really interesting. A couple of times you’d see the guys hitting to a spot on the fairway or a section of the green that you might think wasn’t in play or was too difficult to get to. Seeing them do it showed me that a) it was possible and b) the kind of shots you have to take on in those big events if you want to compete. It definitely gave me a lot to think about from a strategy point of view.
Having Craig on my bag has definitely helped too. He’s been on the bag of guys like Kaymer, Paul Casey and Monty and he’s seen just about every situation there is on a golf course. A couple of guys in my equipment company saw him doing some radio stuff at the Ryder Cup and asked him if he would be interested in joining me on Tour and we started together the next week at the Dunhill Links.
We finished in the top ten in our first two weeks out together and really just hit the ground running. It certainly makes a difference have an experienced guy like him walking with you every round. I like to play pretty aggressively and I hate laying up but he’s helped me work out the risks on shots and it’s, no doubt, saved me shots over the last couple of months. Outside of the shots, he’s a good guy to chat to. I'll ask him about caddying around the world and playing different courses, about the players he's worked for, little things that they might have done that could help me and all those sorts of things, just generally trying to take in some of his experience. He’s a good guy.
As for what’s next for me, I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I didn’t plan to be where I am now, playing the final event of the season and being in the top 100 in the world. After this week, I’ll head back home and play in the Australian PGA and then take a break. I’ve only spent four weeks at home since April so it’ll be good to switch off and see my family, just relax really.
Next year, I’d love to get into the top 50 and get into the Majors and World Golf Championship events but I really just want to get better. I’m only 22 and I still have a lot to learn, both on and off the course. Hopefully I can work on a few things over the break that will set me up for a good year in 2019.