Playing with only affiliate European Tour status in 2018, Herbert has managed to play in 11 events on that tour in the 2017-18 season and is currently in 103rd position in the Race to Dubai rankings.
With several ahead of him not being eligible for various reasons, he is well placed to finish inside the top 110 by season’s end and gain full status for next year.
Herbert played in one of the last few groups out on day one and raced to the turn in 30. Starting at the 10th, the highlight came when he eagled the driveable par-4 15th hole and although the momentum slowed a little on the back nine he added two further birdies to edge clear of the field late in the day.
Herbert leads by one over England's Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace and Ireland's Shane Lowry with China’s leading ranked player Li Haotong another shot back and alone in 5th position.
“Coming off last week I was battling a bit with my form, so I've got my coach over here and my physio and we straightened things out,” said Herbert soon after his round. “It was good to feel like we got the benefit of that today.
“For most of the start of the year my form was quite sporadic, I could shoot eight under but I could also shoot a couple over and throw a double and a triple in there. I've been a lot more consistent lately. I haven't made as many big numbers and at least limited the damage to bogeys.
“There's a lot of pressure coming in to this time of the year. Most of the other guys will probably get more starts than me to finish off the year so there's probably a bit of pressure on me to play well.
“I think I've had that pressure all year and I've dealt with it pretty well. Obviously today was a good indication that it's going alright so hopefully I can just continue that form.”
Of the other Australians, West Australian Jason Scrivener opened with a 5 under par round of 66 to be tied for 6th, South Australian-based Jason Norris showed a return to form having missed nine of his last 11 cuts with a round of 67 which was matched by SA native Nick Cullen.
Lismore's Sam Brazel opened with a 69, Victorian Richard Green 70 and fellow Victorian Jack Munro 75.
Scrivener is currently in 111th position on the Race to Dubai rankings and, like Herbert, he needs to be inside the top 110 to book a European Tour card for next season. A strong finish which included four birdies in his last seven holes in round one have the 2017 NSW Open Champion well placed.
RULES: REPAIRING DAMAGE ON THE GREEN
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