TRANSCRIPT | Lucas Herbert, 2020 Vic Open, pre-tournament press conference

KATHIE SHEARER:  Well, what a fantastic year.  I mean, your win in Dubai, we were all glued to the TV to see the end of it.  How did it feel and how do you feel? LUCAS HERBERT:  It was pretty cool.  I mean, I’ve obviously finished top 10 a few times and like that’s an […]

KATHIE SHEARER:  Well, what a fantastic year.  I mean, your win in Dubai, we were all glued to the TV to see the end of it.  How did it feel and how do you feel?

LUCAS HERBERT:  It was pretty cool.  I mean, I’ve obviously finished top 10 a few times and like that’s an awesome feeling and an awesome rush to like get in the mix of a tournament, but to actually win it was ‑‑ yeah, it was just a different feel.

It’s so hard to even explain what it kind of felt like.  I guess it’s just one of those ones that you want to go and experience again.

KATHIE SHEARER:  And you will, no doubt.

LUCAS HERBERT:  I hope so.

KATHIE SHEARER:  We certainly hope so, too.  You’ve been out on this golf course, you’ve had a look around.  How do you feel about it and what shape it your game in?

LUCAS HERBERT:  Yeah, my game’s good.  I played good this morning, so it’s just kind of trying to shake off a bit of jet lag from the travel in Saudi Arabia last week.  The course is good.  I’ve been here enough times to sort of know what’s going on, you know, where they like to put all the pins and how it kind of plays.  You get pretty much any wind direction out there, so having like a lot of experience is going to be really helpful if the weather sort of behaves or it doesn’t on the weekend.  Yeah, it’s a good week, I feel pretty confident.

KATHIE SHEARER:  One of the guys was walking with you and he said that you birdied six of the first seven or seven of the first eight and you were playing fabulously this morning.

LUCAS HERBERT:  Yeah, as a pro‑am team we had 49 under and still lost.  Yeah, that was a pretty good morning.

Q.  Do you know what you shot?  You were 6 under when I saw you.

LUCAS HERBERT:  Well, I picked up on seven from about 15 feet because obviously par’s your friend.  So Dom (Azzopardi) doesn’t give me that putt and I think I shot 10 (under) if he gives me a bogey there, 10 I’m going to say.  Problem is I’ll probably think about that tomorrow morning and then be upset with whatever I shoot tomorrow because it’s going to be pretty hard to replicate that again.

Q.  Tell us how you turned it around, because at the end of last year you were actually ‑‑ you said that you had been talking about whether you wanted to go back, which is pretty heavy.  You were obviously in a bad state at one point last year.  How has it changed?

LUCAS HERBERT:  Yeah, I think it was a bit of a combination of like stuff that I did and probably good and bad misfortune in a way.

Obviously, just within my team we had some pretty in‑depth conversations and meetings last year that we sorted a lot of stuff out and got a lot of stuff out that needed to be said.  We obviously had some success and then it wasn’t kind of going the way we wanted to early last year, just all the tension that can create and the friction that can create at times.  We just ‑‑ we spoke about everything we needed to do there and everyone got more on the same page.

And then also I came home just after France and was playing with some friends back home and did a ligament in my hand, basically had to take six weeks off.  I think that was a bit different from just taking six weeks off because you want to, because like I didn’t get a choice.  So yeah, six weeks at home doing nothing, trying to find things to do with my life.  All my friends want to catch up.  “Oh, do you want to go play golf?”  I can’t.  I think that was enough to kind of, when I did get back to play, I actually really want to play now. 

So yeah, like the last few weeks has been great, I’ve actually really enjoyed going out and grinding to get the best out of myself both before the tournament and during the tournament. 

And then even like after the win, I think 12 months ago I probably would have just gone home to celebrate, but I was really keen on playing the next week in Saudi Arabia.  So yeah, I think things have changed quite a lot.  It’s good to be back enjoying the game.

Q.  What was the second shot (inaudible) was that the worst shot you ever hit in your life?  What’s the difference between Lucas Herbert 2019 and Lucas Herbert 2017 and ’18 when you had (Inaudible)?  What’s the difference, what changes?

LUCAS HERBERT:  To answer the first one, it’s a pretty high contender for the worst shot of my life.  Don’t want to try to rack my brain to try to think of any worse than that, to be honest.

Yeah, look, I think a win’s going to change quite a lot because it always felt like I was good but wasn’t good enough to win, and it’s not until you actually do that that you actually prove to yourself that you are good enough to win.

So yeah, I felt ‑‑ I definitely felt different about my game the last two weeks.  It feels like there’s something proven there that I actually am good enough.  Like within myself, not to anyone else around me, but it’s more win myself like okay, yeah, I am good enough to win, especially given that I was not handed that at all.  I had to go and earn that win.  It wasn’t like I won in a playoff where the other guy hit three in the water and it was shaking hands after two shots.  So, like that’s a big thing, I think.

And then, I don’t know, it’s one of those things.  I’m 24 now, maybe a little bit more mature.  I don’t know that that’s a really big problem with myself because it wasn’t hard to be more mature than 22‑year‑old Lucas, but a couple extra years under my belt, a few more finishes, a bit longer out on the road of seeing what’s going on and learning about myself as well.  I think that’s probably where I’m different.  And hopefully we’re sitting here in two years time having the same conversation and going, yeah, I’m way better than that 24‑year‑old Lucas as well.

Q.  Is it overstating the case to say a win can be career changing, life changing?  Could it be that big a deal?

LUCAS HERBERT:  I mean, it already is regardless of how I play from now on.  That trophy’s got some serious names on it and like mine’s right there, they’re never going to rub that off.

It’s life changing regardless of what happens now, but I think for sure the confidence that I carry forward, the knowledge of that gives me that like, yeah, the shots under pressure that I need to hit, like yeah, I can hit them.  Even if I do hit bad shots like that 3‑wood in the playoff hole, I can come back from that.  The confidence and knowledge I can take from that, like yeah, that’s definitely going ‑‑ well, hopefully it changes my career, like you said, for the better quite a bit.

Q.  What would it mean if you were to win this in your home state?  I presume you’ve got some family around?  Who is around this week?

LUCAS HERBERT:  Yeah, plenty of family and friends.  Yeah, too many to name names.

Yeah, like the Vic Open, I mean, I think it was the second tournament, second professional tournament I ever played.  It’s obviously my state home open, so I mean, yeah, to win at home would be something different from winning overseas with everyone else around. 

Yeah, it would be pretty cool to win this week, but it’s one of those things like it actually, it is quite difficult to come home and play, and I think a lot of players feel that when they go and play back at home.  You know, they play a worldwide schedule.  To go and play in their home country can be quite tough because there is obviously quite a lot more expectation, quite a lot more pressure on you to play well.  You’re expected to play a lot better. 

So the challenge for me this week is just going to be try and make sure to keep a level head and not get ahead of myself, not expect too much of myself.  The week in Dubai we were pretty much trying to finish in the top 40, so there’s no reason to change that.  I want to have a nice solid week, do all the things that I need to do and kind of let the rest take care of itself.

Q.  Just going to this week after the desert swing, the fact that you are teeing it up rather than taking time off to celebrate, is that something that you’re looking forward to this week or are you here with a more competitive mindset knowing what the feeling of winning is like and wanting to get over the line again this week?

LUCAS HERBERT:  I don’t turn up to any tournament just there to kind of enjoy or celebrate at all.  You want to win every event you tee it up in.  Yeah, I’m definitely not here this week for a bit of a party with my friends.

And, you know, like I’ve got next week off and then I’m playing two in a row and then I’ve got a pretty nice stretch off.  I know in the back of my mind I’ve got some celebrating to do coming up, but right now it’s business time and we’re going to go and do the things I need to do to play well.

Q.  You and I have had discussions about the distance debate at times.  (Inaudible.)  USGA suggested they’re going to do something about distance.  Do you have any initial thoughts about that or is it something that you still remain interested in?  (Inaudible.)

LUCAS HERBERT:  I actually have, me and Clayts.  Twitter’s a hard one as well because we’ve got 250 characters to try and explain ideas that are obviously a lot more complex than that.

Yeah, look, it’s a different one ‑‑ everyone’s got a different idea of what you’re going to do to try and limit it.  I mean, I don’t know.  As far as the current product goes, I don’t know how you’re really going to make it much better.  It’s at a point now where you can’t be getting 10‑yard extra out of a driver, they’re all ‑‑ if they’re going to make a change at all, if they’re going to make it any better, it’s one or two yards max.  So from here I’m not really sure ‑‑ like I think we’re kind of at the limit now.

But, I mean, I get the whole point and the argument of the fact that golf courses can’t keep building more tees back further and further, and obviously it can’t help the amount of golf courses that are shutting down with the fact that they’ve got to build more tees and irrigate more tees and grow more rough and everything like that.

Yeah, everyone’s got different ideas on it.  I’m not against it if they want to bring the distance back.  I guess turn it back into something, it’s more of a ‑‑ the skill of making a centre strike and catching a ball flush is more important than just how hard you can swing it.  I don’t think anyone is going to be against that because that tests the pure skill of golf. 

Obviously what goes with that, with the great courses where it’s about management, it’s about working out where you’re going to leave your next shot, where you’re going to leave your ball in three shots’ time.  I guess in Dubai, like that was a proper test of golf.  Obviously the rough was up and the greens were quite firm and because of that you really have to think about how you were ‑‑ like on the tee, where did you want to leave your par putt because every shot from there is then planned to try and make it easy for yourself.

Back to your question, it will be interesting to see where it all goes.  Personally, I don’t have any issues if they want to try and change it and try and improve it.

Q.  Just in terms of your own game, we know you’re a long hitter.  What other aspects of your game perhaps have changed (inaudible)?  I suspect some of the things you talked about there is what’s changed about your own game to go from contender to winner?

LUCAS HERBERT:  Yeah, I mean, I’ve always putted it pretty well, that’s definitely a strength.  Everyone keeps telling me I’m long, but really I’m playing with a lot of guys that are quite a lot longer than me.  I guess driving overall, like I’m long and reasonably straight, so that’s probably where it plays into more of an advantage for me.

Yeah, like iron play is something that I’ve definitely improved on.  Obviously the wedge play with that second or, what is it, fourth shot in that playoff hole, three months ago I don’t know that I would have been able to hit that shot.  So those are aspects we’ve definitely tried to work on and we have seen some improvements over the last few months.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Terrific.  Thank you for coming in.  

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