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Journeys: Lucas Herbert - Australian Golf Digest Journeys: Lucas Herbert - Australian Golf Digest

The two-time European Tour winner earned his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in September, thanks to a tied-fourth finish at the Albertsons Boise Open. The 25-year-old took time out to reflect on his road to the top, and what it means to be teeing it up alongside the world’s greatest players in the new season.

It’s pretty exciting, I won’t lie. I don’t even know where to begin with knowing that I’ll be playing on the PGA Tour in the new season. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes. I’ve had three years learning the schedule on the European Tour, and now I’ve got to learn a new schedule over here. I guess it won’t be completely foreign as I learn which events I can get into and figure out courses that will suit me and places where I will enjoy playing. I think it’ll be fun trying to figure it all out and make a plan. I want to try to make it to the second FedEx Cup Playoffs event – the BMW Championship – that’s the early goal I’ve picked out for myself. 

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A year ago I probably wasn’t mentally ready to compete out here. It’s a different type of golf in Europe. For example, if there’s water on the right, you can just hit it a long way left generally. There are not a lot of holes that test out your ‘left and right’ in Europe. However, it’s just a different type of golf out here in America where you have to stand out and pipe it. Mentally, I couldn’t get my head around that to start with and I found myself steering it too much and trying to not hit a bad shot versus now where I’m even more aggressive, and I’m just aiming at whatever the target is.

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The past 18 months or so have been amazing with those wins in Dubai and Ireland. They were very different victories. In Dubai last year, I didn’t think I had a chance to win until I walked down the 18th and saw I was one back and I then hit it on the green in two on the par 5 and took my chance there. Before that, I was just thinking, Let’s aim to finish in the top-five. In Ireland, I led from nine holes in on Thursday and all the way through till the end, pretty much. They were very different wins in very different scenarios and there’s so much you can learn when you’re playing while in contention. I played pretty deep at the Travelers Championship in the week prior to Ireland, and I also played in the penultimate group in Scotland on Sunday to finish tied fourth. So we kind of had three weeks in row when we played late and I learned so much.

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The two top-20s which I registered at the Memorial Tournament and Travelers Championship were really good. It was the first time I actually played well here in the US and felt like I wasn’t there just making up the numbers. Those were probably the two events that made me think I could actually play out here on a full-time basis. I didn’t feel like my game was a million miles away from the PGA Tour standard, which it probably was earlier in the year.

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My first professional event in America was the 2018 US Open. It was at Shinnecock Hills and I remember standing and saying it was the hardest course I’d ever played in my life. You see the winds blowing 20mph out there on an already brutally hard golf course – it was a pretty quick slap in the face to let me know I wasn’t quite good enough back then to compete with the big boys. It was a cool experience, though, to see what Major-championship golf looked like.

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As a kid back home in Bendigo, the Masters week was when you wake up at 4am to watch the coverage and I remember Dad waking me up in 2009 when Chad Campbell shot in the low 60s. Dad was getting me out of bed saying someone could shoot 62 for the first time, or something like that. It was one of my early memories. And Tiger Woods winning the US Open on a broken leg in 2008 as well. Those were my early memories watching tour golf in the US. We had Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby, who were all playing on the PGA Tour. They were all successful and certainly guys I looked up to growing up. 

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Through my amateur golf career I played with guys like Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele, but I’m a long way off considering myself as one of them. I played with Jon in the final round in Scotland and we’ve known each other since I finished second to him in the individual category of the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy. Now, every time I see him I’m comfortable being around him and that’s probably a big help as other guys would turn up, see him and mentally explode a bit. I feel I’m probably more comfortable around those guys, like Xander, whom I’ve also known forever and played amateur events with. There are a few other guys near my age where I don’t put them up on a pedestal that the media probably does a bit. I’d love to get my name and head up on some of the screens that these guys are on, but right now I don’t consider myself part of that generation. They have a far better record than I have. It’s now up to me to follow their lead.

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Former NBA star Matthew Dellavedova, who played basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is probably the highest profile athlete to come out of the Bendigo region. We have a pretty talented athlete base and obviously Australian Rules football is massive back home. Suffice to say, there are a lot of athletes who are far more famous than I am. I’m definitely not even in the top-10 on the the leaderboard of famous athletes from Bendigo. But let me work on that! 

Images by Getty images: Paul Kane, Warren Little