Haz­ards of be­ing a golf pro ...

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT RACING -

SYDNEY: Lu­cas Her­bert out­shone Ma­jor win­ners Jor­dan Spi­eth and Ja­son Day with a sparkling 66 to take the lead at the Aus­tralian Open yes­ter­day be­fore re­flect­ing on the less glam­orous as­pects of life as a golf pro­fes­sional.

The Aus­tralian took the plunge into the pro ranks in 2015, a year af­ter driv­ing 11 hours from Mel­bourne to Sydney and sleep­ing in his car to fin­ish as the lead­ing am­a­teur at his na­tional Open.

Two years on and the 21-yearold is find­ing the re­al­i­ties of be­ing a pro­fes­sional are not as he imag­ined they would be. “You see guys get­ting in­vites on tour, fly­ing in pri­vate jets ev­ery­where, staying in five-star ho­tels and you think that’s what you’re go­ing to get,” he said.

“Then you turn pro and you’re so hor­ri­bly mis­taken. It’s such a sud­den re­al­i­sa­tion.

“I was laugh­ing at these guys for go­ing and play­ing a Pro-Am and now I can see, okay, that’s pretty im­por­tant and I ac­tu­ally need to go and do that as well.”

Her­bert won A$40 400 by fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the New South Wales Open last week but he is also find­ing that play­ing for money adds an ex­tra level of pres­sure.

“As an am­a­teur you stand there and you could hit it in a five-yard slot and then you stand up there as a pro and now it’s for your liv­ing, and you’re like ‘please hit the ball, please make con­tact and don’t be a YouTube hit’,” he said.

“I was re­ally strug­gling on the Fri­days in tour­na­ments as I knew that was cut day. It was like, be three in­side a cut line and be wor­ried about that, not wor­ried about try­ing to make three more birdies and get up near the lead. I ob­vi­ously made some last week so the pres­sure’s off a bit this week, but when the bank bal­ance is get­ting down, Fri­days started get­ting pretty ner­vous then.”

Her­bert was in no dan­ger of miss­ing the cut yes­ter­day af­ter mix­ing six birdies with a sin­gle bo­gey to lead ma­jor win­ner and former world num­ber one Day by a stroke at the half­way point of the tour­na­ment.

The big-hit­ting Vic­to­rian said he would not be lack­ing for friends af­ter a such a good day. “I’ll go and look at my phone in 10 min­utes’ time and there’ll be 50 mes­sages on there, and 45 of them are from peo­ple that you don’t hear from un­til you start play­ing well and they see you on TV,” he said.

For all the pres­sures, though, Her­bert said the re­wards, how­ever mod­est, were grat­i­fy­ing. “I made money from the end of last year and I went and bought a TV and I went and bought a couch and I was like, man, I earned that.

“Even the lit­tle things, go out for break­fast, I earned this. It’s def­i­nitely mas­sively grat­i­fy­ing to know that you earned ev­ery­thing along the way.” – Reuters

LU­CAS HER­BERT

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