Lucas Herbert slept in the back of his family's Holden station wagon all the way from Melbourne to Sydney last night on the off chance that he could find a spot in the field for the Emirates Australian Open.
And Herbert's extraordinary odyssey was completed today at Carnarvon Golf Club in western Sydney when the 18-year-old Australian amateur birdied the final hole for a 67 to qualify for his first start in a national championship.
He will tee it up at The Australian from Thursday alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott after less than 24 hours earlier, he had let a golden opportunity slip by on the final hole of the Australian Masters.
Herbert had the promise of a start in the Open if he could finish top-10 at the Masters at Metropolitan on Sunday, but having shared the lead through the front nine, he faded with a double bogey six on the last that saw him slide to 11th … missing out on a start at The Australian.
But that triggered a series of events. "It's been a hell of a 48 hours,'' Herbert told golf.org.au.
"Basically I didn't book a flight because I wasn't sure whether I was playing. Then by the time we finished at Metro and started looking for a flight, we couldn't find one, and the only option was to drive.
"Dad (Lyndon) said he was prepared to drive and the Mum (Meredith) decided she wanted to help him out with the driving. I stretched out on the back seat and got some sleep. We stopped off at home (Bendigo, in northern Victoria) for some supplies, then kept on going.
"I reckon I woke up at about 6.30. It wasn't the best sleep I've ever had, but it was better than nothing. I was still wearing the same shirt that I wore at Metro and I had a 9.30 tee-off at Carnarvon, so I jumped in the shower at the club, and away we went.''
The story was only beginning there. Herbert played well, but with three spots available from Carnarvon for the Open field, he needed a birdie at the last. He duly rolled in his putt for a five-under 67 to take his place.
"I didn't feel it (fatigue) as much as I thought that I would,'' said Herbert. "I couldn't let what happened yesterday get in my way. I just kept focussing on what I had to do. I'm so happy.''
Herbert, who plays out of Commonwealth Golf Club, is a prominent member of Golf Australia's national amateur squad. He represented Australia at the world amateur championships in Japan this year, and was second in the individual section of the Eisenhower Trophy.
Another Golf Australia elite squad member, Victorian Geoff Drakeford, also qualified today.
The others to get through into the field were James Marchesani and Daniel Valente (Victoria), Aaron Pike (Queensland), Richard Gallichan, Neven Basic, Daniel Nesbitt and Sam Phillips (New South Wales).