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Mon 27 Jan 2020 08:26 AM

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Herbert celebrates Australia Day with Dubai Desert Classic victory

24-year-old claimed first European Tour title with play-off win over South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Herbert celebrates Australia Day with Dubai Desert Classic victory

Lucas Herbert of Australia celebrates with the championship trophy after winning during the final of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. Image: @OMEGAGolfDubai

Lucas Herbert celebrated Australia Day with his first title on the European Tour when he beat South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout to win the Dubai Desert Classic on the second play-off hole on Sunday.

After hitting his second shot on the first extra hole into the water on the par-5 18th, Herbert made a terrific up-and-down for par to halve the hole, and then birdied the same hole a little while later. 

Bezuidenhout overshot the green with his second and failed to make his up-and-down from there.

For Herbert, it was the biggest final-round comeback in the 31-year history of the tournament after he had started the day five shots behind overnight leader Wu Ashun of China. 

The previous record was held by Tiger Woods who overcame a four-shot deficit in 2008.

Both Bezuidenhout and Herbert shot rounds of four-under par 68 in extremely difficult conditions at the Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club and set the clubhouse marker at nine-under par 279. 

However, none of the leading players after the third round could catch up with the two as gusting winds of 30 miles per hour and more wreaked havoc.

Three players – Dean Burmester of South Africa (72), Tom Lewis of England (74) and Adri Arnaus of Spain (70) – were tied third at seven-under par 281.

It was the 24-year-old Herbert's 50th appearance on the European Tour and the win is expected to lift him from 223rd in the world rankings to number 77 on Monday.

'Pretty cool rush'

"It feels pretty good. I finished top-10 quite a few times and that was a pretty cool rush, but to win is something else," said Herbert, who had started the day with a bogey. 

"Just the fact that with everything that's gone on back home (the country's devastating bush fires), if I can bring a little bit of joy to the guys who are struggling back there, yeah, it's real special."

The 68s by Herbert and Bezuidenhout were the best rounds of the day as only three holes played below their par score.

"It was brutal out there. That rough was up pretty thick. Those greens were baked. That little bit of rain on the back nine kind of helped, because otherwise, those greens were a lot to deal with," added Herbert.

Bezuidenhout was handling the tough conditions extremely well and was bogey-free with five birdies in 17 holes, before making his first and only mistake on the last.

After laying up perfectly with his second shot on the par-5 18th, he spun back his wedge third into the water and needed to make a putt from 18 feet to avoid a double bogey.

On the other hand, Herbert birdied the 17th after hitting his driver to the green edge on the par-4 and then smashed his second shot on to the green on the 18th and two-putted from a long range for another birdie to join Bezuidenhout as the clubhouse leader at nine-under par.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, of the USA, was in the mix as he reached the 15th tee at nine-under par. 

He then proceeded to make four bogeys over the closing stretch to drop down to tied eighth position.

Overnight leader Wu carded a final round 77 to finish three behind.

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