Lucas Herbert grinds it out in the rain to win Irish Open

Australian found himself in trouble a number of times but got the job done at Mount Juliet

Lucas Herbert of Australia holds the winners trophy with his caddie after the final round of The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet Golf Club. Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Lucas Herbert of Australia holds the winners trophy with his caddie after the final round of The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet Golf Club. Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

 

As Lucas Herbert rolled in the winning putt - his 269th stroke - the actions of his caddie Nick Pugh spoke louder than words: the man with the best beard in golf dropped the flag pole he was holding and, with clenched fists, raised them joyously to the grey skies which had emptied copious rain throughout the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet.

Pugh’s next action was to jump on his man, on the 18th green. Not pretty, or synchronised by any means, but entirely fitting of the moment.

For Herbert, the 25-year-old Australian, the victory - far from straightforward despite the eventual three stroke winning margin - was one that showcased his shot-making and at times his powers of scrambling, but most of all his fortitude as he stuck gamely to his task in getting the job done. A final round 69 gave him a winning total of 19-under-par 269, three shots clear of Rikard Karlberg and four clear of Johannes Veerman. All three earned exemptions into the upcoming 149th Open at Royal St Georges.

On a day when frequent cloudbursts ensured caddies earned every cent for their payload, raising and unfurling umbrellas and producing towels from golf bags while keeping their yardage books dry, a number of players sought to deflect Herbert from a wire-to-wire victory.

Karlberg, for one, with a bogey-free closing 67.

And, most dramatically, Italian Francesco Laporta who - with audacious chip-ins and outrageous long putts - reeled off six straight birdies from the fifth only for them to dry up on the homeward run and, ultimately, to end anti-climatically with a water ball on his approach to the last and a double-bogey finish.

Herbert, who moved to just outside the top-50 with his second tour win, adding this title to the Dubai Desert Classic he claimed last year, stuck diligently to his task. At times it seemed he was determined to take a nature trip into the numerous Oak and Lime trees that line the fairways, with wayward driving, but he scrambled brilliantly, from trees and sand, none more so than par saves from greenside bunkers on the 15th and 16th. Ultimately a round of five birdies and a lone bogey saw him safely home to lift the Waterford Crystal trophy and the winner’s cheque for €485,000 that moved him from 131st to 18th in the Race to Dubai standings.

“Looking at the names on this trophy, it’s pretty special. To add my name to that list is something no-one can take away from me. I was really hungry to win. I really wanted to win, and to do it wire-to-wire. I proved so much to myself out there, that mental fortitude was there. I was able to hit the tough shots when I needed to, able to hit those tough par saves when I needed to. I feel like this one is pretty satisfying from that point of view,” said Herbert.

Final scores from the 2021 Irish Open (British & Irish unless stated, Par 72)

269 Lucas Herbert (Aus) 64 67 70 68

272 Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 71 67 67 67

273 Johannes Veerman (USA) 65 70 67 71

274 Richard Bland 69 66 72 67, Richie Ramsay 67 69 70 68, Grant Forrest 66 67 73 68, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 68 69 68 69, Dale Whitnell 67 67 71 69

275 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 67 69 70 69, Andrew Johnston 67 70 69 69, Sean Crocker (USA) 67 70 70 68

276 Aaron Rai 69 71 67 69, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 66 73 68, Andy Sullivan 67 66 73 70, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 69 68 69, Matthew Jordan 69 69 73 65,

278 Wil Besseling (Ned) 69 69 71 69, Tommy Fleetwood 67 72 68 71, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 68 68 73 69, James Morrison 70 68 70 70, David Howell 71 67 73 67, Darius van Driel (Ned) 72 68 71 67

279 Shane Lowry 70 69 74 66, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 67 68 74 70, Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 70 65 75, Oliver Farr 72 66 76 65, Svn-Hwan Kim (USA) 72 68 72 67

280 Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 71 68 71 70, Jeff Winther (Den) 70 68 71 71, Marc Warren 71 70 70 69, Maverick Antcliff (Aus) 69 72 68 71, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 68 70 73 69

281 Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 69 72 71 69, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 68 68 71 74, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 69 71 69 72, Chris Paisley 68 71 70 72, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 68 72 71 70, Cormac Sharvin 73 67 69 72

282 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 68 72 70 72, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 71 67 74 70

283 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 67 70 73 73, Marcus Armitage 68 68 76 71, John Catlin (USA) 69 68 72 74, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 70 71 73 69, David Law 73 66 72 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 73 68 70 72, Jordan Smith 69 69 73 72, Justin Walters (Rsa) 69 71 72 71, Connor Syme 69 71 71 72, Steven Brown 68 69 71 75,

284 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 67 73 73 71, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 72 66 76 70, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 68 68 74 74, Gregory Havret (Fra) 67 69 76 72, Toby Tree 72 69 71 72

285 Graeme McDowell 74 67 70 74, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 74 67 72 72, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 67 69 75 74

286 Rory McIlroy 72 67 73 74, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 70 69 73 74

287 Vincent Norrman (Swe) 68 72 74 73, Jack Senior 72 68 71 76, Garrick Porteous 70 70 75 72, David Coupland 73 68 72 74

288 Alexander Levy (Fra) 68 73 75 72

289 Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 71 68 70 80

291 Scott Jamieson 68 73 77 73

293 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 70 83 70

300 Kurt Kitayama (USA) 69 72 82 77

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