Lucas Herbert took a step closer to his first potential tournament victory when he landed five late birdies in the space of 90 minutes yesterday.
The 21-year-old registered a round of six-under-par bringing him to outright fifth (14-under) nevertheless it is the Victorian’s vibrancy which has elevated him to cult hero status.
“As I entered the 18th green last night I received a large round of applause from the Victorian audience being a Bendigo boy,” Herbert reflected.
“It’s been great to have both family and friends support me down here especially now that I don’t get to play a lot in Victoria after the Masters tournament was scrapped.”
Herbert, the highest ranked Victorian on the leaderboard, will tee off at 11.10 this morning alongside Dmititrios Papadatos (-15) and Peter Wilson (-13).
“I didn’t look at the leaderboard until the last half an hour of yesterday; that’s when I heard Matthew Giles was 17-under-par,” Herbert said.
“Most of the veterans are posing as the biggest threats because they’re the experienced ones who are patient on the last day and they know how to get it done.”
“So today I’ll keep an eye out on them as well as Jake McLeod after his handy performance on Friday.”
If successful, Herbert would be the youngest male recipient of the Oates Vic Open trophy since Robert Allenby’s victory as an amateur in 1991.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of the boys come down to Barwon Heads and watch me, there were a few here on Friday,” Herbert said.
“For my 21st birthday (in December) the boys bought me a bottle of scotch under the condition that we wouldn’t touch it until I win my first big event.”
He added with tongue in cheek, “So, I’m hoping to crack it open tonight.”
Herbert enters the final round in hot form having recorded eight birdies in warm conditions yesterday.
Proud father Lyndon and grandfather Ray were present to cheer young Lucas from start to finish.
“Even though it was a Saturday, Mum had work so Dad felt a little bit guilty leaving her but he always comes to support me,” Herbert explained.
“To see my Pop stick around for most of yesterday was also special for me, you embrace the moment.”
He added, “This tournament is very important to me, not just as a Victorian being my ‘home open’ but also because of how big this family-friendly tournament has become.”
“The players coming down are getting better and better, the crowds are getting bigger each year and there more and more kids hanging around.”
“So to win this would mean a hell of a lot to me.”