US Open debutant Lucas Herbert was as stunned as anybody when he soared through the sectional at Portland Golf Club in Oregon this week.
Herbert, the 22-year-old from Bendigo in central Victoria will step out in his first major championship at Shinnecock Hills next week after shooting 66-64 in the qualifying on Monday to easily win his section and grab a place in the field.
He is also in the Open Championship field for Carnoustie this year having finished in the top eight at the Singapore Open in January, so it is about to be a huge year for the former Eisenhower Cup representative.
Herbert told Golf Australia’s ‘Inside The Ropes’ podcast this week that he had actually played “average golf”, particularly in the lead-up to Portland.
“I actually wasn’t feeling that confident over the ball to be honest,’’ he said. “To be able to get the ball in the hole like that was pretty satisfying. That was probably the best ‘bad’ golf I’ve played for a long time, if ever.’’
Herbert said he went to Portland with no expectations having played poorly in recent times.
“I found something on the range, where I thought ‘maybe that’ll work’. I kind of trusted it. I was running three or four swing thoughts which my mental coach Jamie (Glazier) would probably not recommend. It was one of those days, every time you hit one near a bunker it seemed to kick away from it.
“Every time you hit it in the rough or the trees you seemed to find a gap, you’ve got a nice swing. You’re a foot from having to chip it out and instead you get it up near the green. We said with about eight holes to go, one bounced left off the edge of a bunker on to the green and we said ‘when it’s your day, it’s your day’.’’
Herbert, who finished tied-sixth in the Australian Open last year, said he would soak it up at Shinnecock. “Is it too cliched to say it’s the same preparation as any other event? Obviously being a major the excitement levels will be there, in the way you get to see Tiger (Woods) hitting balls on the range and you’re close up to that, you see other pretty cool things and it’s obviously Shinnecock Hills which is a pretty phenomenal golf course.
“We’re going to see a lot of stuff, and it’s obviously going to be new and exciting. I think just being able to appreciate that, take all that in as well as knuckling back down and focussing on what I need to do.’’
The Victorian intends going hard in the US Open, where he will join eight other Australians in the field – Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Aaron Baddeley, David Bransdon and Jason Scrivener.
“To qualify for the US Open is cool, but it doesn’t really do that much,’’ he said. “If I go and miss the cut I’ll say ‘that’s a cool experience but it’s not done anything for me’. We definitely need to take this opportunity, take advantage of this, play my best golf at Shinnecock. If I can go low and get myself up there on the weekend and get amongst it, that would be the best thing that could happen from it.’’
The Open starts next Thursday at Shinnecock on Long Island.