BAY HILL, Florida – Lucas Herbert says he feels ready for a debut at the Players Championship after a stunning final round in brutal conditions at the Arnold Palmer Invitational secured more than $US200,000 ($A271,000) in extra prizemoney.
Herbert began the final round at the prestigious Palmer tournament in a share of 33rd at two-over-par but a red-hot 68 – the low round of the day at Florida’s Bay Hill course – rocketed the Australian to a two-under total.
Sunday’s conditions were so tough that Herbert’s 68 was one of only four scores under par, while the worst round of the day was Troy Merritt’s 87.
While American Scottie Scheffler (72, five under) emerged victorious from an exciting final day in hot, windy conditions, Herbert finished tied for seventh and also bagged a $US390,000 ($A529,000) payday.
Had Herbert remained at two over, he would have tied for 32nd and earned a $US183,000 cheque.
Playing with fellow Australian Scott, Herbert rattled off three birdies in his first four holes before two bogeys early on the back nine stalled his charge.
But Herbert bounced back with a birdie at the 15th before draining a 52-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th.
Herbert, who ranked No.1 in strokes gained:putting for the week said Bay Hill was his biggest examination on the PGA Tour despite winning his first event on the main US circuit at the Bermuda Championship in November.
“It’s extremely satisfying; this was the first time I’ve played this level golf on a Sunday at a really tough course on the PGA Tour,” Herbert told Australian Golf Digest.
“Winning in Bermuda was great but it wasn’t Bay Hill on a Sunday with gnarly rough and fast greens as well as wind.”
Herbert will make his debut at the Players at TPC Sawgrass later this week, the PGA Tour’s flagship event and one considered the unofficial fifth major.
His top-10 finish at Bay Hill could not have come at a better time given the Players Championship will be followed by Herbert’s debut at the Masters at Augusta in April.
“The Players is a great event and I’m looking forward to finally playing it” he told AGD.
“It’s another PGA Tour tournament but it’s extremely iconic; everyone who has watched it on TV wants to feel what it’s like to hit that shot on 17 at TPC Sawgrass and it’s a championship you want to play well in.”
Herbert said playing well in front of Adam Scott was a motivation given he is a Presidents Cup stalwart who is also close friends with International team captain Trevor Immelman.
Herbert, currently 23rd on the International team standings, has work to do to get on the 12-man team through qualification (eight spots) or a captain’s pick (four players).
The Presidents Cup is back on US soil in September this year at North Carolina’s Quail Hollow course.
Herbert hadn’t played golf with Scott since the pair were a part of an impromptu tour of cash games among professionals on the Sunshine Coast during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Adam came back to Australia in March 2020 a few of the guys – Senior Tour players and regular tour players – kind of started our own tour; it wasn’t quite at the Saudi level,” Hebert joked, referring to the rich, Saudi-funded proposal for a global golf tour. “But we were throwing in 100 bucks each and playing for a pool.”
Herbert was the lone Australian to finish the Palmer event under par and inside the top 10.
Adam Scott (74) was next best of the Australians at four over, tied 26th, while Matt Jones (75) was eight over. Marc Leishman, the 2017 Palmer champion, was 11 over after a 78.