Lucas Herbert says PGA Championship host Southern Hills reminds him of one of his favourite courses in Victoria, Peninsula Kingswood, and it’s making him feel at home on the Tulsa, Oklahoma course.
World No.46 Herbert, one of eight Australians in the field for the PGA Championship, said the moment he stepped foot on Southern Hills, he was instantly reminded of the Frankston, Victoria 36-hole masterpiece.
“Southern Hills has a feeling about it like Peninsula Kingswood; there are a lot of open spaces off the tee and some shared fairway bunkers which is such a Sandbelt thing,” Herbert told Australian Golf Digest. “The way greens blend into the next tee, almost like there are no defined tees, reminds me a lot of Peninsula.”
Southern Hills, a par 70 measuring 7,500 yards – is a golden age Perry Maxwell design that was restored in 2019 by popular architect Gil Hanse. It has hosted three US Opens and four PGA Championships before this week, most recently in 2007 when Tiger Woods lifted the trophy in extreme Oklahoma heat.
“It’s a great golf course; playing well here is a lot about angles into greens and it’s a great tactical challenge as much as a skills challenge,” Herbert said. “You’ll get the best players in contention at the end of this week because the approach shots ask you to shape the ball and flight it to guarantee yourself a two-putt or even a look at birdie.”
Two things are giving 26-year-old Herbert confidence this week. The first is his length. This writer walked with Herbert in a practice round on a blistering hot Wednesday, and on the 632-yard, par-5 13th (632 yards from the back tee) Herbert hit a 382-yard drive and a 250-yard hybrid to reach it in two. His eagle putt grazed the edge.
“If I can keep it straight at my length it’s going to be good for me,” Herbert said.
Hebert has also adjusted the lie angles of his driver and irons to suit his swing. He now feels he has the ideal setup.
“I feel I’ve turned the corner with my driver; I struggled to match up my setup,” he said. “The whole bag was off and I’ve done a bit of work on the equipment and I feel it’s going to payoff.”
Now feeling better about his overall game, Herbert feels able to finish off the year strong after missing three cuts so far this year. Herbert says despite winning the Bermuda Championship in November for his maiden PGA Tour title, the adjustment from Europe, where he’d won twice, was tougher than he anticipated.
“The PGA Tour is where I’ve always wanted to be; playing against the best and playing tournaments I grew up watching on TV as a kid,” Herbert said. “But it’s also tough. The spotlight is on you, which is good, but these guys are the best of the best. The fields are so deep.
“If you beat anyone in the field, you’ve played okay. No one is making up the numbers here. A 40th place finish can be a good result.”
AUSTRALIAN TEE TIMES RD 1:
Cam Davis, Matt Kuchar, Rikuya Hoshino: 7.55am Thursday/10.55pm AEST
Cam Smith, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris: 8am Thursday/11pm AEST
Matt Jones, Richard Bland, Garrick Higgo: 8.28am Thursday/11.28pm AEST
Min Woo Lee, Ryan Brehm, Wyatt Worthington II: 12.30pm Thursday/Friday 3.30am AEST
Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka: 1.03pm Thursday/Friday 4.03am AEST
Marc Leishman, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley: 1.20pm Thursday/Friday 4.20am AEST
Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Harold Varner III: 1.25pm Thursday/Friday 4.25am AEST
Lucas Herbert, Chad Ramey, Austin Hurt: 2.15pm Thursday/Friday 5.15am Friday AEST