Herbert brings winning form to 13th Beach

Lucas Herbert is back in love with golf as he chases a first Vic Open title.

LUCAS HERBERT of Australia plays a shot during the ISPS Handa New Zealand Golf Open at The Hills Golf Club in Queenstown, New Zealand.
LUCAS HERBERT of Australia plays a shot during the ISPS Handa New Zealand Golf Open at The Hills Golf Club in Queenstown, New Zealand. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

It's been some year for Australian golfer Lucas Herbert.

Little more than 12 months ago he was at the crossroads, unsure if the life of a touring pro was for him or if he even wanted to return to the European Tour.

Now he's rocketing up the world rankings courtesy of last month's victory at the Dubai Desert Classic, which carried a winner's purse of $800,000.

At No.84, the 24-year-old Herbert is the second highest-ranked player in the field behind Chinese Presidents Cup player Haotong Li (No.79) for the men's Vic Open beginning on Thursday at 13th Beach.

Despite being co-sanctioned by the European Tour, the $1.5 million event has been unable to attract any of the tour's bigger names, leaving the in-form Herbert as the headline act following his stunning victory in Dubai.

"That (Dubai) trophy's got some serious names on it and mine's right there and they're never going to rub that off," Herbert said on Wednesday.

"It's life-changing regardless of what happens now, but I think for sure the confidence that I carry forward, the knowledge that gives me that the shots I need to hit under pressure that I can hit them.

"Even if I do hit bad shots like that three-wood in the playoff hole, I can come back from that."

It is a world away from his mindset the previous year, when Herbert was unsure whether he even wanted to stay in the sport at the elite level and had to have a heart-to-heart with his team.

"We obviously had some success and then it wasn't kind of going the way we wanted it to early last year, just all the tension that can create and the friction that can create at times," said Herbert.

"We just spoke about everything we needed to do there and everyone got more on the same page."

As proof of his change in thinking, Herbert was desperate to play again the week after his breakthrough triumph in Dubai.

"Twelve months ago I probably would have just gone home to celebrate, but I was really keen on playing the next week in Saudi Arabia," he said.

"So things have changed quite a lot and it's good to be back enjoying the game."

Herbert and China's Li are playing together in the opening two rounds of the Vic Open alongside Marcus Fraser.


AAP