Australia’s Lucas Herbert says his career has come full circle after securing his second European Tour title as Rory McIlroy struggled at the Irish Open this past Sunday.
Herbert took a one-shot lead into the final round at Mount Juliet and carded a closing 68 to finish on 19 under par, three shots clear of Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg.
The victory secured Herbert a place in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s later this month, with Karlberg and third-placed American Johannes Veerman claiming the other two places on offer.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Herbert said. “I felt like I was at one of my low points in my life when I played the Irish Open at Lahinch two years ago.
“It was my first full season on Tour and I really wasn’t enjoying my life out on the road and at the end of that week was pretty much questioning if this was the career that I wanted to do.
“There’s no better feeling than coming off that 18th green on Sunday having a good result under your belt and I just felt like I didn’t want to sit there at 30, 35, 40 and having hung up the clubs and being one of those guys that sits at the bar and goes ‘That could have been me’.
“That Irish Open was probably the low point and for it to come full circle now and be holding this trophy, it’s really special.”
Birdies on the 2nd and 3rd had extended Herbert’s overnight lead to three shots, but the 25-year-old then bogeyed the 5th and did well to scramble for par on the 7th and 8th after wild tee shots into the trees.
Veerman briefly pulled alongside Herbert on 17 under, but birdies on 15 and 17, allied to a bogey for the American on 16 re-established a comfortable lead.
Shane Lowry will head into the defence of his Open title on a high after carding a closing 66 to finish on nine under.
But four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy admitted he needs to work “pretty hard” on his game after weekend rounds of 73 and 74 left him in a tie for 59th.
McIlroy will now head to the Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open before the final Major of the year at the Open from 15 July.
“I certainly don’t feel as good about where I’m at compared to where I was after the US Open,” said McIlroy, who held a share of the lead in the final round at Torrey Pines before finishing in a tie for seventh.
“There’s nothing better than preparing for a Major championship by getting into contention the week before.
“But I need to work pretty hard on my game the next few days before heading into the Scottish Open.”
©️ Agence France-Presse