As a golfer, Lucas Herbert has aspirations to emulate the feats of Greg Norman and Tiger Woods; as a person, the 22-year-old from Bendigo wants to be just like Jarrod Lyle.
RACV Royal Pines Resort will become a sea of yellow in honour of Lyle for the opening day of the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast on Thursday with Herbert to carry a specially-made yellow golf bag for the week.
At the completion of the tournament the bag will be auctioned off with money raised to go to Lyle’s wife Briony and their two daughters but that will not signal the end of his tribute to the much-loved Aussie golfer who passed away in August.
Fellow lads with liberal doses of cheek from Victorian country towns just 120 kilometres apart, there are personality traits that both Lyle and Herbert pair share.
While Lyle’s ever-present smile drew people in, Herbert’s sense of humour comes with smatterings of sarcasm, never afraid to argue his point through social media channels or on podcasts.
As Lyle was impossible not to like, Herbert’s bravado can’t help but be respected and as he sets his sights on world golf domination, he knows that keeping Lyle’s legacy in his mind will be a critical part of his development as a person.
“I would love to follow in his footsteps, but I think of Jarrod more as the sort of person that I would like to be,” Herbert said.
“He was always just that country guy no matter where he got to in the world and what tournaments he was playing in.
“No one had a bad word to say about him. He was always such a lovely guy to whoever he came across.
“Everyone always had a lot of time for him, he always had a lot of time for everyone. He never forgot where he came from.
“So much of that is what I want to be like as a person, not just as a golfer, so that's why I feel quite a loss with Jarrod not being here anymore.”
Part of the next wave of young Australian golfers primed to make their mark on the world’s biggest tours, Herbert used his talent and self-belief to turn seven sponsor’s invitations on the European Tour this year into a full card for 2019.
Confident enough to ask Tiger Woods for a practice round at the British Open in July, Herbert played every possible event that he could until a runner-up finish at the Portugal Masters thrust him into the Race to Dubai finals series.
His stellar play continued all the way through to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai two weeks ago, bringing admiration from more experienced Aussies on the European Tour.
“We played with him at the New South Wales Open last year and I said then that within two or three years this guy will be top 50 in the world,” said Jason Scrivener, who fell just short of qualifying for the European Tour finale in Dubai.
“He’s a really, really good player and he does all the right things. All the things that the top 50 players in the world are doing, he’s doing, plus he’s got a lot of talent.
“I’ve got no doubt he’ll kick on and be in the States before too long.
“Unless you’ve got status and a full card straight up you’ve got to (play every event you can). Even if you’ve got a Q School category you never know.
“You’re getting a call a couple of days before the tournament and that’s the hard thing about being an Australian, you’ve got to get on a flight and get in the day before the tournament starts.
“But he’s a good enough player to get through even if he’s not completely prepared but it’s certainly been pretty impressive.”
Quickly becoming one of the elder statesmen of the Aussie contingent on tour – and another player with roots in regional Victoria – Marc Leishman was similarly impressed by how Herbert had taken advantage of limited opportunities.
“I haven't actually had much to do with Lucas, but I am aware of his year,” said Leishman.
“I did the Monday qualifiers on the Nationwide Tour at the time and he started out this year with no status.
“That's pretty impressive to have the year he did, get to the final event in Dubai, off no status.
“He's clearly a pretty big talent as well. You've got the guys on the PGA TOUR, Cam Davis, Curtis Luck this year. I think you have to throw Lucas Herbert's name amongst one of the guys to watch out for in the future for sure.”
It is already clear that Herbert will be representing Australia in the game’s biggest tournaments for the next decade but he also wants to take a leaf out of Greg Norman’s book – literally – and win regularly on home soil, starting this week at the Australian PGA Championship.
“I was reading Greg Norman's book the last few weeks and he always said he always wanted to come back to Australia and be seen as a winner in Australia,” Herbert revealed.
“That resonated with me a lot. I would love to come back here and win our events if I'm going to have the career that I hope to have.
“To kick it off here on the Gold Coast would be great.”
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