Lucas Herbert has added loft to his irons out of a respectful eye for Rory McIlroy on the cusp of his appearance at The Memorial Tournament in Ohio this weekend.
The 27-year-old Australian says he wants to bomb the ball high at the course designed by the great Jack Nicklaus and on to greens which he observed were unusually firm.
“I felt like I had to be launching the ball a lot higher than I have been in recent times,” said Herbert from Ohio. “I’ve played a bit with Rory recently, and he’s basically hitting it through his left nostril with most of his iron shots. I felt like I need to be giving myself more of a chance to be able to get it close to these tough pins you get out here on the PGA Tour.
“You get a ‘flier’ in the rough, the way my irons were set up it was like it was never coming down when I did a flier that I didn’t pick. This will give us a better chance to be more attacking and get closer to more pins out here on tricky courses. I think it’ll help here this week on firm greens.”
Herbert is one of five Australians in the field for The Memorial in Ohio with its $US20 million purse.
He has had an indifferent 2022-23 season on the PGA Tour interspersed with his brilliant win in the DP World Tour’s ISPS HANDA Invitational in Japan in April.He missed the cut in Texas last week meaning his Fedex Cup ranking has slid to 152nd.
“I thought I played better than I played at the PGA (Championship) where I was 40th”, “ he said. “I was two or three shots out from maybe getting to a top-20 there and that which would’ve look more indicative of the way I played that week, because it was tough and I scrapped it out well. I got a reasonable result and I would have thought it’d be better.
“That’s the story of my year on the PGA Tour at least, I just haven’t been able to polish off results the way I’d like. It’s not where I like to be at this time of the year. A lot of areas are just a bit off. I went home over the weekend and worked really hard on them and I’ve worked hard the last couple of days.
“I’ve made some equipment changes, worked hard on some technique stuff, Jamie (Glazier) my mental coach is here and we’ll work hard on the mental stuff the next couple of days and hopefully get some results in this week. I absolutely love being back at Muirfield Village for Jack’s event. It’s a great event, the golf course is unbelievable. I think it’s playing into my hands this week being firmer and faster than it normally is, so look, I’m doing everything I can to get a result this week and I feel like something’s coming at least.”
Herbert, who has won three times on the DP World Tour as well as on the PGA Tour in 2021 is trusting his workload to put him into a good position as the US Open and the Open Championship approach.
“I don’t think I play my best golf when I’m confident on a Tuesday,” he said. “I’ve got to try to build through the week, so I’m trying to look at it like that. If I look at the work I’ve been putting in and the habits I’ve been creating around myself, I think only good results are coming.”
Herbert also was announced this week as the first committed male player for the mixed-gender ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Sydney in late-November.
A critic of the format after a long day on the course at Victoria in 2022, he is grateful that Golf Australia has tweaked it with no third-round cut among a raft of changes.
“What I think’s really commendable from Golf Australia and the PGA is they went back and had a good, hard look at themselves and find out for themselves,” he said. “They spoke to me, they spoke to a bunch of players on what things didn’t go well, what things could be improved, what could be better for the 2023 Australian Open.
“To give them their credit they’ve done extremely well, they’ve made a lot of changes, it’s going to be a better event for everyone involved I think. It looks like all three – the men, the women and the All Abilities — are going to get their time in the spotlight to shine.”
World No. 5 Minjee Lee heads the bunch of Australians teeing it up this weekend on the LPGA Tour in New Jersey, while the DP World Tour heads to Hamburg in Germany.
PHOTO: Lucas Herbert wants his irons to fly high at Muirfield Village. Photo: Getty
Round One tee times AEST
The Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio
9.48 pm Matt Wallace, Seamus Power, Cam Davis
10.05* Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa
10.29* Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Cameron Young
2.05am Will Gordon, Eric Cole, Ryan Fox (NZ)
3.12 Davis Riley, Lucas Herbert, Brandt Snedeker
3.48* Kazuki Higa, Thriston Lawrence, David Micheluzzi
Defending champion: Billy Horschel
Past Aussie winners: Greg Norman (1995), Greg Norman (1990), David Graham (1980)
TV Times: Friday-Saturday: 9.30pm-4am Featured Groups, 4am-8am. Sunday-Monday: 2.30am-8am Fox Sports 503 and Kayo Sports
Mizuho Americas Open
Liberty National GC, Jersey City, New Jersey
9.26pm* Peiyun Chien, Karis Davidson, Amanda Doherty
9.37* Lauren Hartlage, Bronte Law, Sarah Jane Smith
2.15am* Stephanie Kyriacou, Emily Kristine Pedersen, Mariah Stackhouse
2.26* Celine Borge, Julieta Granada, Sarah Kemp
3.10* Ayaka Furue, Grace Kim, Maja Stark
3.32* Lydia Ko (NZ), Minjee Lee, Lilia Vu
Defending champion: inaugural year
TV Times: Friday-Saturday: 2-4am. Sunday-Monday: 2.30am-8am Fox Sports 505 and Kayo Sports
Japan Tour Championship
Shishido Hills Country Club, Ibaraki
7.20am Adam Bland, Tomofumi Ouchi, Taiki Sakurai
8.00 Masashi Hidaka, Andrew Evans, Nobuaka Oda
10.48 Anthony Quayle, Naoyuki Kataoka, Ryuko Tokimatsu
12.12pm Todd Baek, Brad Kennedy, Brendan Jones
2.16 Dylan Perry, Koichiro Ishika, Tadahiro Takayama
Defending champion: Kazuki Higa
Past Aussie winners: nil
DP World Tour
Porsche European Open
Green Eagle golf courses, Hamburg, Germany
3.40pm JC Ritchie, Niklas Norgaard, Jason Scrivener
4.40* Dale Whitnall, Daniel Hillier (NZ), Wilco Nienaber
12.30am* Emilio Cuartero Blanco, Anton Albers, Blake Windred
Defending champion: Kalle Samooja
Past Aussie winners: Michael Campbell (NZ) (2002), Mike Harwood (1991), Peter Senior (1990), Greg Norman (1986), Graham Marsh (1981)
TV Times: Thursday-Friday 9pm-2am. Saturday-Sunday 10.15pm-1.30am: Fox Sports 505 and Kayo Sports
Ladies European Tour
Allerum GC, Helsingborg, Sweden
Aussies competing: Whitney Hillier, Momoka Kobori (NZ), Wenyung Keh (NZ), Hanee Song (NZ). Tee times TBA
Defending champion: Not played since 2015
Past Aussie winners: Rebecca Artis (2013)
Korn Ferry Tour
UNC Health Championship
Raleigh Country Club, North Carolina
8.55pm* Spencer Levin, Curtis Luck, Kevin Dougherty
9.06* Rhein Gibson, Chandler Phillips, Matt McCarty
9.37 Paul Barjon, Brett Drewitt, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
2.21am* Bo Van Pelt, Sam Saunders, Dimi Papadatos
Defending champion: Davis Thompson
Past Aussie winners: Mark Hensby (2000)
D+D Real Czech Challenge
Panorama Golf Resort, Kacov, Czech Republic
5.10pm Ryan Ruffels, Pep Angles, Roope Kakko
9.23* Cormack Sharvin, Jack Singh Brar, Connor McKinney
10.29 Jordan Zunic, Christopher Feldborg, Albert Venter
10.29* Maverick Antcliff, Craig Ross, Luke Jerling
10.40 Rhys Nevin, Jarryd Felton, Victor Ryu
Defending champion: Nicolai Kristensen
Past Aussie winners: nil
Principal Charity Classic
Wakonda Club, Des Moines, Iowa
Aussies playing: Richard Green, David McKenzie, Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling, Robert Allenby, John Senden. Tee times TBA
Defending champion: Jerry Kelly
Past Aussie winners: nil
Champions Fore Change Invitational
Taberna Country Club, New Bern, North Carolina
Aussies competing: Gabriela Ruffels, Robyn Choi, Amelia Garvey (NZ), Hira Naveed, Su Oh, Cassie Porter, Emily Mahar. Tee times TBA.
Defending champion: inaugural tournament
Past Aussie winners: nil
PGA Tour Latinoamerica
Interrapidisimo Golf Championship
Club El Rincon de Cajica, Bogota, Colombia
9.20pm Jose Narro, Denzel Ieremia (NZ), Adam Navigato
10.00 Charlie Hillier (NZ), Myles Creighton, Miguel Sancholuz
3.20am* Harry Hillier (NZ), Briggs Duce, Roland Massimino
Defending champion: Cristobal Del Solar