Lucas Herbert makes it a memorable Australia Day
Herbert staged a remarkable recovery to make par
†Lucas Herbert made it a memorable Australia Day by clinching the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, for his maiden win on the European Tour.
The 24-year-old from Bendigo, Victoria, came through unscatched following gusts of winds, a spell of rain, an excursion into the water, as well an extended play-off against South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, for his first victory on the Tour in 50 appearances.
After being tied at nine-under 279 following a four-under 68 in the fourth round along with Bezuidenhout, Herbert went into a play-off with a South African.
And it had seemed that the tale had already been written after he sank his second shot into the water hazard on the par-5 564-yard 18th to drop a shot.
But Herbert, who had enjoyed a fine rookie campaign on the European Tour where he finished 46th in the Race to Dubai, two years ago, staged a remarkable recovery to make par.
And with Bezuidenhout too making par, the pair drove off in their golf buggies back to the 18th tee of the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club, for another play-off.
Herbert made sure there were no further hiccups, executing it how he wanted to by landing his second shot in the green and then resisted the temptation of going for an eagle on the tricky downhill approach.
With Bezuidenhout only managing to make par after firing his second shot into the fringe of the green, Herbert birdie putt before pumping his fist and hugging his caddie in celebration.
In doing so, he became the second Australian to win the Classic after Richard Green had triumphed in 1997.
Herbert's previous best finish in Dubai was tied seventh in his first appearance here last season. The victory moved him to second in the Race to Dubai rankings, up from 119, with 731.35 points after three tournaments.
Herbert, who like most Australians, also loves cricket, jumped to 77th in the Official World Golf Rankings, up from 223rd.
His win was the second victory for an Australian player in this season's Race to Dubai following Adam Scott who won the Australian PGA Championship. It was also the 134th victory by an Australian player in European Tour history.
This was the sixth time that the Classic was decided by a play-off after Mark James beat Peter O'Malley in the inaugural edition in 1989; Seve Ballesteros defeated Ronan Rafferty in 1992, Richard Green beat Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam in 1997; Tiger Woods defeated Ernie Els in 2006 and Miguel Angel Jimenez beat Lee Westwood in 2010.
"The last ten minutes feel like I've been dreaming. It's so weird. It's awesome. It's just the best thing ever. It is so good," said Herbert.
Despite the victory, Herbert reflected on events back home Down Under, especially with the bushfires, and hoped that he may have brought a little bit of joy to the people.
"Obviously there's some pretty awful stuff happening right now in Australia with the fires. Everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on the first play-off hole. That's nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers putting out the fires. Sending all my love back home and hope everyone is well, and thanks for the support," added an emotional Herbert, who vaulted 12 spots in the fourth round.
Earlier, Herbert and Bezuidenhout lay in wait after finishing the day on nine-under to see if the chasing pack could overhaul their score.
But overnight leader China's Ashun Wu was consumed by the conditions as he shot five-over 77 to finish tied sixth at six-under 282.
And American Bryson DeChambeau relinquished his hold on the title as he faltered with a four-over 76 and five-under for the tournament to finish tied eighth.
(GBR & IRL unless stated):
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