Rising star Lucas Herbert says Australia’s wave of young guns will have the opportunity to put their name up in lights following confirmation of the dates for the 2020 Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club.
Although there are more than a dozen operational contingencies depending on the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic currently in play, the Australian PGA Championship is slated to take place from December 3-6 in a fitting finale to what is Royal Queensland’s Centenary Year.
With Adam Scott as defending champion and two-time winner Cameron Smith both boasting ties to Royal Queensland, the PGA of Australia is hopeful that our brightest stars will be in attendance as the ability to bring in international visitors remain uncertain.
The first-round leader at RACV Royal Pines Resort last December, Herbert elevated his growing status with victory at the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic in January and along with Vic Open winner Min Woo Lee and 2019 New Zealand Open champion Zach Murray headline the next generation set to make their mark and contest for the Joe Kirkwood Cup.
Throw in the likes of Japan Golf Tour regular and Queensland Open winner Anthony Quayle, 2018 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Jake McLeod, 2017 Australian Open winner Cameron Davis and newly-minted professionals such as David Micheluzzi and Blake Windred and an all-Aussie PGA brings with it plenty of star power, and opportunity.
“Guys like Min Woo and Zach and Brett Coletta and these guys coming through, it’s a great chance for them to play well and win a big event and really get their name in front of the Australian public and try and build a brand for themselves,” said Herbert, who has spent his time in lockdown learning how to surf, cook and play guitar at his Sunshine Coast base.
“It’s going to be really tough to know whether we’re going to have international players or not but we’ve had successful events before when we’ve been up against the wall with international tours having events on at the same time as us.
“I don’t think it’s the end of the world if we don’t get international guests. We’re still going to do quite well and have a really good event even if we don’t.”
A three-time winner of the Australian PGA Championship, Peter Senior not only played in the last PGA to be played at Royal Queensland in 2001 but has played the revamped layout a number of times in the Ladbrokes Legends Tour Pro-Am hosted by the famed course.
Winner of all three of Australia’s largest events past the age of 50, Senior will be 61 when the opening round tees off on December 3. And with a round of 5-under 67 to win the 2018 Royal Queensland Cup can’t be counted out from taking the Joe Kirkwood Cup for a fourth time.
“A score of 67 is pretty good from the back tees for us old guys,” said the ever-humble Senior.
“It was a lot different in the olden days. The course used to be very tree-lined, the jacarandas would be down both sides of the fairways and it was a really tough test of golf.
“They’ve come in and opened it up a little bit. Some people think it’s a little more open than it should be but with some of the greens and the way they’re built you have to come in from the right side of the fairway.
“With the fairways as wide as they are people think the course is fairly easy but when they tighten it up and you’re coming from the rough and the greens are a little firmer, you’re not going to hold too many. They can toughen up golf courses very easily.
“The course is certainly up to standard to play a major event. Queensland is pretty lucky to have an event like this.”
Since Senior’s last PGA win at Coolum in 2010 the honour roll has been dominated by PGA TOUR-based players such as Scott and Smith, but Herbert is determined to add his name to the list of winners of one of Australia’s most prestigious events.
“It is a really special event. For the Aussie guys it is so easy to get up for our Australian events because they are so special,” said Herbert, the world No.64 whose best PGA finish is a tie for seventh in 2017.
“It’s what we grew up watching on TV and to put our name on some of the trophies available, it’s definitely something that we want to do.
“I had the great weekend at the Australian Open a couple of years ago playing the weekend with Jason Day and I’ve led quite a number of the tournaments that we play throughout Australia at some point or another.
“It’s pretty special and it’s a different feeling from winning overseas. I’m definitely proud of the way I’ve played back in Australia and tried to do my friends and my supporters proud.”