Lucas Herbert’s extraordinary European Tour season could yet reach further heights with the 22-year-old in the hunt to be crowned the tour’s Rookie of the Year.

Still competing as an affiliate member, Herbert played his way into the European Tour Race to Dubai finals courtesy of three consecutive top-10 finishes from late September, including second place at the Portugal Masters and a tied for third at the Sky Sports British Masters.

That run of form wrapped up a European Tour card for 2019 along with a place in the finals where Herbert opened with a tie for 35th at last week’s Turkish Airlines Open.

This week Herbert begins the Nedbank Challenge at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City 40th in the Race to Dubai rankings and is destined to complete his season at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

It’s been a wild and remarkable ride that began in February with no guarantees and a reliance on sponsor invitations, but could end with Herbert claiming the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.

The man Herbert must catch to be crowned the year’s best rookie is India’s Shubhankar Sharma who is close to 400,000 points ahead in 27th position in the rankings but given all that he has achieved already in 2018, you can’t say anything is beyond him.

With an eye on breaking into the top 50 in the world – which would also open up opportunities to play on the US PGA Tour next year – Herbert spoke of the relief of being able to secure his future in Europe for the next 12 months.

“It’s been quite a good month-and-a-bit now, from Portugal onwards,” Herbert told the Inside the Ropes podcast ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open.

“Prior to that I had a whole lot running through my head and I did it, I locked up a European Tour card. That was a really nice way to capitalise on some good work for the year.

“We’ve got a schedule now for Europe next year where I know where I can play week in and week out. I’m setting this top 50 goal so I can go to the US next year and completely throw everything else out the window. That feels like what I’ve done this year anyway.”

Sitting 18th in the Race to Dubai rankings, Ryan Fox is the best positioned of the Australasian contingent with two events left to play with Wade Orsmby and Jason Scrivener joining Herbert as the Aussie representatives playing in South Africa this week.

Scrivener advanced to the Nedbank Challenge courtesy of his tie for 23rd at the Turkish Airlines Open but needs another strong week to qualify for the season finale.

Ormsby’s start in Dubai next week looks more assured, starting this week ranked 46th.