It wasn’t a victory on home soil for Lucas Herbert, but Friday’s Neangar Park Pro-Am has boosted his confidence ahead of his first European Tour event of 2019 next week.
After shooting five-under par and finishing tied for sixth – two shots behind winner Ryan Lynch, Herbert had little time to mix with friends and family.
He was off to the airport to travel to Dubai for next week’s $7,000,000 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the $3,250,000 Dubai Desert Classic a week later.
Leading into the Axedale Pro-Am and Neangar Park Pro-Am double, Herbert spent two weeks on the Sunshine Coast with his coach Dom Azzopardi.
With Dubai in mind they worked on various aspects of Herbert’s swing and the two Pro-Am events in Bendigo were a great way for the 22-year-old to blow away the cobwebs.
“I hit a lot of good shots out there that I thought if I can replicate them in the next couple of weeks I’ll do pretty well,’’ Herbert said.
“I was more happy with a lot of the processes I was going through and a lot of stuff I’ve been working on is coming through nicely. I can see the results coming through.
“That was more pleasing rather than anything too negative about the finish.”
A final hole bogey on Friday cost Herbert the opportunity to win his home event for the first time.
After a slow start to his round, Herbert made his move with a birdie on the eighth, followed by eagles on the ninth and 11th.
A huge drive on the par-four 15th set up another birdie before he narrowly missed an eagle putt on the par-five 17th.
With one hole to play he was six-under par and equal leader with Lynch.
Lynch’s final hole was the par-five 11th and he made a birdie to move to seven-under par.
Herbert’s tee shot on the testing 18th hole was heading for the left buker until it hit a spectator in the shoulder and dropped short of the sand trap.
Herbert’s second shot with a wedge flew over the back of the green and he needed a miracle chip-in to tie the lead.
His chip sailed past the hole and he missed a long range par putt.
“I was trying to make birdie because at the time I thought birdie probably would have won it for me,’’ Herbert said.
“These things happen, the second shot came out funny over the green and I had not much chance of getting up and down.”
Herbert’s finished five-under par, two behind Lynch and one shot behind a group of four players at six-under – Rory Bourke, Ben Murphy, Adam Burdett and Andrew Kelly.
Bendigo’s Andrew Martin, the defending champion, finished four-under par in a tie for 10th.
Martin, who won the Axealde event on Thursday, played solidly tee to green but left a few birdie opportunities slip by.
“It was just one of those days where the putts didn’t drop,’’ Martin said.
Martin and Herbert were both impressed by the condition of their home track.
“The course is in great condition. I love coming back and playing here and having all the pros come out and no-one says a bad word about it because it’s in such good condition,’’ Herbert said.
“It’s easy to sell it to guys when we come back to this year after year. It was great to see a great turnout here (to watch the event)”.
Strong performances in Dubai over the next fortnight could set Herbert’s season up and provide him with some play money.
“I’ve got some nice goals in place… and I’ve got some stuff I want to buy,’’ Herbert said.
“Money is a great way to throw some incentives in there for me to play well.
“There’s a house that I like up in Noosa that’s probably first on the list.”
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