Lucas Herbert claims maiden PGA Tour victory at Butterfield Bermuda Championship
Lucas Herbert clinched a maiden PGA Tour victory after prevailing in an enthralling final round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship yesterday.
Despite coming into the final day four shots adrift of Taylor Pendrith, it was the 25-year-old Australian who managed to best hold his nerve of the leading threesome, which also included Danny Lee, in a war of attrition against the adverse weather at Port Royal Golf Course.
Adapting admirably to the conditions, his highly respectable round of two-under 69, including four birdies, saw him finish on 15 under overall to ultimately clinch the title by one stroke from Lee and former Masters champion Patrick Reed, who had earlier shot a six-under 65 to ramp up the pressure on the leaders.
“It wasn’t looking like the best day out there when we were all huddled under the umbrellas,” said Herbert, who was making his 20th start as a PGA Tour rookie. “That was brutal, but to survive all that I’m very proud.
“I just think I had the right attitude going into the day. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so it was just one of those days where you just had to battle. Anything under par would have been a great score. You just had to battle through and take your chances when you got them.
“That weather makes it so much harder and it really brings out the best in players because you have to be so much more precise. Thankfully I enjoy that sort of challenge.
“Around the 14th I could see that Patrick [Reed] had set a 14 under and so we all knew that was the number to beat. I thought around 16 under would always be good enough to win outright and so that was the target I was thinking of.
“I tried to stay positive and focused because it is really hard not to jump ahead and start thinking about ʽwhat am I going to say in the winner’s speech’, ʽwhat is the photo with the trophy going to look like’.
“I had to make sure I kept myself in check on the straight because there was still a tournament to be played and Danny [Lee] was making a real run.
“I just had to keep myself really present, try and take advantage of others struggles and once I was able to get over that final putt, it was time for some fun.”
Heading into the day with his destiny in his own hands, the early signs looked encouraging for Pendrith, until a disastrous run of three consecutive bogeys from the 6th wiped out his three-shot advantage altogether, putting Lee in the ascendancy, in what was to prove a topsy-turvy tussle at the top of the leaderboard.
By the turn, Lee still held a one-shot advantage. However a double bogey on the 12th and an impressive birdie from Herbert, handed the latter the advantage. Lee’s woes continued with successive bogeys over the next two holes, with Herbert also bogeying the 13th, but crucially recovering with a birdie on the 14th, to move back to 15 under.
By this point, Reed was closing out his round at 14 under to add some late intrigue within the standings. To add further excitement, Lee, who had regained his composure superbly, carded the first of three successive birdies on the 15th to put himself firmly back in contention.
However, undeterred, Herbert remained bogey-free through the same three holes, safely parring his way to the final hole, happy in the knowledge that the same outcome on the 18th would be good enough to guarantee the title.
In stark contrast, Pendrith, who had been steady, if not spectacular, from the turn with eight successive pars, saw his slim chances finally ended in disastrous fashion on the 17th, finding the water twice en route to a double bogey.
While Pendrith was left to rue what could have been, Herbert was in the process of stroking a superb approach shot on to the 18th green, leaving himself with a comfortable cushion of two shots at glory. Missing the first opportunity ultimately proved insignificant as he rolled in the next straightforward putt to clinch an elusive maiden PGA Tour win.
As well as earning a full allocation of 500 FedEx Cup points and a $1.17 million windfall in prize money, the victory also earns Herbert entry to The Players Championship and the Masters.
“The next 12 months are going to be really cool,” added Herbert, who moved to joint fifth alongside Rory Mcllroy in the FedEx Cup standings as well as being projected to move up 12 places to world No 45. “Playing in the Masters will be amazing. I’ve never been to Augusta, so to play in that sort of tournament will be a phenomenal experience.”
Lee, who secured conditional PGA Tour status, settled for joint second place alongside Reed, who recorded his best finish since placing fifth at the Memorial Tournament in June.
Meanwhile, Pendrith, who matched the Bermuda Championship 36-hole scoring record and 54-hole tournament record, finished the day with a 76 to ultimately tie for fifth on 12 under overall with Scott Stallings, who, despite the awful conditions, posted a scorching nine-under 62 — not only the lowest score of the day but also the joint record for lowest closing round.
The pair finished a shot behind Patrick Rodgers, who shot a one-under 70 to finish up on 13 under overall.
“It was a brutal day out there, it was super tough,” said Pendrith. “Danny [Lee] and Luke [Herbert] were playing pretty nice and made a couple birdies early. I was just kind of cruising, making pars and I didn't really get anything going.
“But, like I said, I hung around, I was right there on 17 tee. So it's a new experience for me. I wish I played a little bit better, but still lots of positives.”