Lucas Herbert is looking to end 2018 ranked inside the top-50 players in the world and the Australian PGA Championship will play a big part in that plan.
Having a breakout season on the European Tour, Herbert teed off the year with a third-place finish at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth and parlayed that into a further five top-10 finishes from 17 starts to secure his card on the lucrative Tour.
Now with that goal achieved, the 22-year-old has his sights set on the world top-50, major championships and world golf championships.
“When I am asked what my goals are, I am happy to let people know. You can’t knock a kid with dreams,” said Herbert, who brings a refreshing honesty and exuberance when speaking of his career up to this point.
“Mine is top-50 in the world by the end of the year; I want to play all four Majors next year, play the WGC events and be able to play whatever I want for the entire year.
“The form that I am currently in and the confidence I am taking into the last four events of the season, I don’t see any reason why I can’t achieve it.
“But if you look at the maths and the world ranking points that I need to earn, I am going to have to probably play as good as I have been, if not better.
“It is probably going to mean, that if I get up near the lead, I am really going to have to capitalise and try to win.”
Herbert’s best chance at winning could come at the Australian PGA Championship where he finished tied 7th last year.
“On paper, the Australian PGA Championship does look like my best opportunity to win, but I don’t think that makes it any easier, there are so many good Australian players. In the other three tournaments I only have 60 players to beat, whereas I am going to have 156 on the Gold Coast,” Herbert added.
RIGHT: Herbert has enjoyed a successful year in Europe and is currently World No.82. PHOTO: Jan Kruger/Getty Images. Top: Supplied/PGA of Australia.
“Because I have had good results overseas, by the numbers I probably am a favourite, but I never think of it like that because I know how much talent there is in Australia.
“They are all going to want to put in a good performance to take advantage of the opportunities on offer at the Australian PGA Championship.”
The winner of the tournament will earn full status on the European Tour until the end of the 2020 season plus a start in the World Golf Championship – FedEx St Jude Invitational.
But for Herbert, the prestige of having his name engraved on the Kirkwood Cup outweighs the many benefits derived from a tournament victory.
“The one thing that has stood out for me this year, I can’t even remember how many top-10’s I have had now, but I haven’t had a win,” added Herbert.
“I think that would really make this year quite memorable for me if I was able to get myself that first win.
“I have four events left for the year and I would be happy to win any of them. Three of them are $7 million Race to Dubai events and while the Aussie PGA is quite a drop financially, it would mean quite a lot more to me sentimentally, with it being in Australia, where I learnt my trade and played my first few years. It would mean quite a lot to win the Australian PGA Championship for sure.”
Should Herbert find himself in that position come the 72nd hole at RACV Royal Pines Resort, his competitors had better brace themselves as winning is his only mindset.
“Not many people I know are more competitive than I am. I wouldn’t say that I am overly confident, I am just that competitive and I hate losing,” Herbert said.
“It just ends up that I would prefer to have the putt on 18 to win the match than have someone else with that putt and I need to rely on them missing it.
“I think I am quickly learning what the whole package is, that I need to play well week to week, month to month, year to year and we continue to develop that.
“But given my results at the back half of this year, I think I am close to finding a formula that gives me pretty good results.”
“When I am asked what my goals are, I am happy to let people know. You can’t knock a kid with dreams.” – Lucas Herbert
That single-minded focused coupled with his exceptional big-hitting capabilities will make Herbert a force to be reckoned with at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
“I think with the Graham Marsh design, if you can fly your ball over a few of those fairway bunkers it just makes life so much easier,” Herbert said.
“I think on a hole like 13 if you hit it 250 metres off the tee it’s quite a tricky driving hole but if you hit it 270 it just opens up a lot. It seems like one of those courses where 10, 15 metres can just make it play so differently.
“So in that respect it definitely suits me, but I would add, on those Queensland Bermuda greens I am not as familiar with them as the bent grass I grew up on down here in Victoria. So I am trying to learn more about that type of grass and how to play those sorts of greens.”
A festival of golf, the Australian PGA Championship has created a celebration of golf that players look forward to teeing it up in and Lucas Herbert is no exception.
“A PGA Tour of Australasia tournament on the Gold Coast, we are playing for good money, Marc Leishman and Cam Smith playing as well, I am quite excited to be playing,” Herbert said.
“I had a really good time up there last year. The Gold Coast is a great spot to hang out and it’s a good time of year with the weather being great.
“I have managed to get the same house as last year, I have a few friends coming up and we are going to really enjoy that week, I am really looking forward to it.”
The Australian PGA Championship will be played at RACV Royal Pines Resort from November 29 – December 2 with the field set to feature Marc Leishman, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and defending champion Cameron Smith.