Date: November 25, 2014
Author: Martin Blake @ The Australian

Herbert confronts next challenge

Lucas Herbert's head is still spinning with all the attention, but he doesn't mind.

The top Australian amateur was at The Australian this morning to prepare for the Emirates Australian Open after qualifying on Monday, a day after his slide to 11th place in the Australian Masters cost him a spot in the national championship.

Herbert, 18, from Bendigo in northern Victoria, has become a minor celebrity this week with the news that his parents, Lyndon and Meredith, drove him from Melbourne to Sydney on Sunday night to take on a qualifying event at Carnarvon Golf Club in Sydney's west. He shot 67 at Carnarvon with a birdie at the last hole to take the third of three available spots in the Open field.

"It's been such a rollercoaster where I went from being so disappointed to now being over the moon to get to play such a great event,'' he said.

Herbert, who slept most of the way to Sydney in the back seat of the family Holden station wagon, is thankful for what his parents did for him. "They did such a good job. I don't know how I got anywhere in my golfing career not just yesterday without them. It's a credit to them. They're such good parents.''

Now his focus is on the golf, and his first appearance in an Australian Open, where he will tee off on Thursday with John Senden and Matt Jones, two of the country's best professionals.

"Winning's there, you want to do it,'' he said. "But I'm also wary that your world No. 1, Rory McIlroy, is here, Adam Scott's here, there's two pretty big hurdles to jump over right there. But I couldn't ask for a better spot for my game to be in, and I think that I'm ready.''

Herbert completed year 12 studies in Bendigo recently, and intends taking next year off, moving to Melbourne to take advantage of the Victorian Institute of Sport's golf program, and Golf Australia's facilities and coaches. "I need to improve my game and get better, to hopefully turn pro in two years time or so.''

The increased focus is part of the deal, he said. "I have no issues with it all. I'm still going to go out there and do my thing. I had lots of press last week, and I'm going to treat it as just another event, I've still got to go out there and play golf. That's my main focus.''