From Humble Beginnings: Lucas Herbert's Journey To The Open

Lucas Herbert's golf journey started in regional Victoria. (Photo: Getty Images)
From the first tee at Neanger Park Golf Club to the 18th green at Carnoustie Golf Links is a distance of approximately 26,944.7 kilometres, according to the internet.

But the journey Lucas Herbert has travelled between these two destinations is not one that can be measured by mathematical calculation.

The 22-year-old this week earned a spot in the field for the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie and will thus achieve two milestones: a debut major appearance for himself but also for his small home club just outside Bendigo, in central Victoria.

Sometimes on a Thursday you can still find Herbert knocking it around his old home track with his mates but come July he won’t have time for that as he prepares to play the game’s oldest major at one of its most storied venues.

“It’s a dream come true,” says Herbert of his achievement at Sentosa Golf Club shortly after arriving back in Melbourne from Singapore.

“And as far as I can work out I’ll be the first player from Neanger Park to play a major so that’s pretty cool, too.”

Unlike Carnoustie, Neanger Park isn’t steeped in golfing tradition having only been around since 1931.

While Carnoustie has borne witness to some of the most famous moments in golf, Neanger Park’s most significant historical event was its switch from sand greens to grass in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But the 500-strong membership are fiercely proud of both their course and the club’s favourite son, Herbert, and club professional Erik Hendrix says the buzz since it was confirmed the popular local would play the Open in July has been ‘off the charts’.

“Facebook lit up yesterday after it was confirmed he was in the field,” he says. “And already a few of the boys are talking about organising a trip over to watch.

“It’s pretty special for all of us, really. To think about all the golfers out there who dream of playing professionally and playing in an Open and the odds are just so much against it.

“And yet here we are with one of our own from this little corner of the golf world off to play the biggest event of all. It’s just fantastic.”

Herbert's T7 finish at last month's Australian PGA Championship lifted him to 8th on the PGA Tour of Australasia money list.

Herbert birdied three of his last five holes in the final round of the Singapore Open to claim the fourth and final spot being offered for the top finishers not already qualified for July’s Open.

Earlier in the day he had made four straight birdies to close out his weather delayed third round, those shots crucial as it became apparent over the closing stages he was in with a chance.

“I chipped in for birdie on 14 then made an 8-footer down the hill on 16 for par and I thought at that point if I could finish birdie-birdie-eagle I could maybe get a spot,” he says.

“I knew Sergio was already qualified and thought if I could get to T2 or T3 that might almost get me in.

“And then I birdied 16 and hit it close on 17 but I missed the putt. I thought there was only three Open spots and I thought I had to eagle the last to have a chance.”

But he didn’t. A birdie there courtesy of a gutsy eight-foot putt put him at 6-under though with others still on course who could affect the outcome it was a nervous wait.

“I was way more nervous watching than when I was out there playing,” he says. “It’s hard when you can’t have any effect on the outcome!”

Eventually things fell Herbert’s way and he will now proudly fly the Bendigo flag at Carnoustie in July.

The prospect of a group of members he grew up with making the trip to Scotland to cheer him on is one he finds amusing.

“Bendigo meets Carnoustie….that could be interesting!” he says with a laugh.

Herbert has some knowledge of the course having played the British Amateur there in 2015 and while he failed to qualify for the match play section of the tournament he did sign for a 72 at a layout considered one of the toughest on the Open rota.

Who knows what numbers will be required to be in the mix come July but for the fast-blooming Herbert, just being in the field is another step on the journey from humble Neanger Park to the biggest stages in world golf.


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