Lucas Herbert earns breakthrough win at Butterfield Bermuda Championship
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Written by Jim McCabe @PGATOUR
Lucas Herbert’s Round 4 highlights from Butterfield Bermuda
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – For the bulk of the week, especially on those quaint ferry rides back and forth between the Princess Hamilton and Port Royal Golf Course, it had been easy to spot Lucas Herbert.
He was the competitor in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship who had the colorful, and lively, entourage. A band of three merry men they were – caddie Nick Pugh with the lengthy beard, physio Luke Thomas, swing coach Dom Azzopardi – and while it’s difficult to not fall in love with Bermuda, these lads were fully invested in the endeavor and being extremely successful.
“We have a lot of fun traveling all together,” said Herbert. “We’re all quite different personalities and different characters, which makes it a lot of fun, as well.
“But to be honest, this week we actually kind of had a discussion about maybe toning it down a little bit.”
Ah, Lucas, my friend. Likely you’ll have to table that “toning down” discussion, because your stunning victory in just your 20th PGA TOUR start put your team over the moon. Hold that ferry ride back to the hotel; Pugh, Thomas, and Azzopardi appeared ready to walk on water the entire way.
“We feel like we’re almost an equal part of this, this journey to winning out here on the PGA TOUR,” said Herbert.
Good on you, mate, for spreading the wealth, because surely it has rolled onto your plate in enormous chunks. By shooting 2-under 69 in ferociously difficult wind and finishing at 15-under 269 to edge Patrick Reed (65) and Danny Lee (71) by one, Herbert won the $1,170,000 prize, earned PGA TOUR status for two years, picked up 500 FedExCup points, and not lost on him were some glitzy additions for he and his merry men to travel to.
“The next 12 months are going to be really cool,” said Herbert, who came into the week ranked 57th in the world. “Definitely gets me into the Masters and Kapalua (Sentry Tournament of Champions Jan. 6-9). It’s going to be lots of fun.”
But first things first. “I think the next few days we’ll sit back and think and celebrate.”
Herbert deserves it, because in stark contrast to the fun that will come his way, playing Port Royal this week was anything but easy. The tournament got under way Thursday with 25-30 m.p.h. wind and sideways rain and it ended in a similar fashion, though fortunately, Herbert and his competitors were told to “stay in place” two hours into Sunday’s final round while rain pelted down and 40 m.p.h. gusts swept over the island.
The stoppage came right after Herbert hit a shot that quite possibly could have cost him his victory, a 3-iron into the beefy par-3 eighth that he chunked a little. The ball got in the air, and he feared that it was headed out-of-bounds and into the Pompano Beach Club swimming pool.
Fortunately, it came down just in-bounds and Herbert did what winners do; he took advantage of the break with an all-world up-and-down from about 55 yards.
“Par was an unbelievable score there,” said Herbert. “That probably was part of what set me up the rest of the round.”
Smart Aussie because he’s right. Even when he bogeyed the par-4 ninth, Herbert was 14-under, just one behind Lee, his playing competitor. No matter that Reed, six groups ahead, was headed into the house at -14, Herbert sensed that it was match play with Lee and the third member of the pairing, Taylor Pendrith, who had led by three through 54 holes.
Embracing that match-play mentality, Herbert watched everything go his way coming home. Lee went double-bogey, bogey, bogey at the most difficult stretch – Nos. 12-13-14 – and Herbert played them birdie-bogey-birdie.
With Pendrith authoring a birdie-less 76 that dropped him into a share of fifth, it was ownership time for Herbert and oh, how the Aussie from a town called Bendigo in Victoria seized the opportunity with four rock-solid pars sealed the deal.
Which, come to think of it, is pretty much how he arrived in Bermuda to begin, eh?
Pugh nodded his head, flashed a bit of a smile through a long, thick beard, and said, “He’s one of the most talented golfers on the planet. He hits shots that no one else can hit.”
Debate Pugh, if you want, but he has plenty of evidence on his side. Three years ago, when Pugh met Herbert on the Asian Tour, the Aussie was barely ranked inside the top 200 in the OWGR. But in impressive fashion, Herbert won the Dubai Desert Classic in 2020, then, with Pugh on the bag, he won the Irish Open at Mount Juliet over the summer.
Having piled up enough points in PGA TOUR-sanctioned tournaments to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, Herbert and his merry men were in Idaho, for the Albertsons Boise Open. “We knew a top five would get his PGA TOUR card,” said Pugh.
Herbert birdied four of his last six holes, shot 66 and finished joint fourth.
“He does things on a daily basis that only the great players in the world do,” said Pugh. “That’s encouraging.”
As Herbert following the obligatory route of a winner – sign your card, visit the trophy celebration, talk to the media – his merry men hugged nearly everyone who walked by and, having fallen in love with “Bermy,” they were soaking in the island love.
They camp out at Isleworth in Orlando, Fla., where Arjun Atwal is a member and plays frequently with Herbert. After finishing T-71 in the tournament, Atwal was greenside at 18 to greet his friend. “A great story,” said Atwal.
Pugh said more chapters are to come.
“I knew his game would fit well over here,” said Pugh, who in another lifetime tried to play the game professionally. “But I stopped playing, started growing a beard and started caddying.”
Was he any good?
“Nowhere as good as I’m doing caddying.”
Standing nearby, Herbert smiled. It’s a team effort, remember.
Jim McCabe has covered golf since 1995, writing for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and PGATOUR.COM. Follow Jim McCabe on Twitter.