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Lucas Herbert hails his swing in fortune following Irish Open victory

Australian comes out on top to wipe out Lahinch low

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Irish jig: Lucas Herbert celebrates with his caddie Nick Pugh at Mount Juliet after winning the Irish Open. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

Irish jig: Lucas Herbert celebrates with his caddie Nick Pugh at Mount Juliet after winning the Irish Open. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

PA

Shane Lowry. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

Shane Lowry. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

PA

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Irish jig: Lucas Herbert celebrates with his caddie Nick Pugh at Mount Juliet after winning the Irish Open. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

Australia’s Lucas Herbert succeeded where Greg Norman failed 26 years ago and claimed the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet.

Victorian Herbert held off final day charges infrequent rain showers from American Johannes Veerman, Scotland’s Grant Forrest and Italy’s Francesco Laporta, as he battled home in three-under 33 to card a four-under 68 and win by three shots from the fast-finishing Swede Rikard Karlberg on 19-under and claim the €485,000 winner’s cheque.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said.

“It’s just so fulfilling, really. I felt like I was at one of my low points in my life when I played here two years ago at Lahinch in the Irish Open, and now to feel like I’ve done full swing and come back around and won the event that I was at a pretty low point at, it’s pretty satisfying. I’m very happy standing here right now.”

But while the 25-year-old world No 91 was thrilled to become the third Australian to win the event after Ossie Pickworth in 1950 and Brett Rumford in 2004, the weak field has accelerated calls for a change of date.

With just four of the world’s top 75 in action, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy both believe the week after the game’s final Major would be better with Graeme McDowell, a potential host next year backing them to the hilt.

“Unfortunately when we turn the TV next Thursday we are going to see a stark contrast and see how bad this field really is compared to what they have next week in Scotland,” McDowell said. “So it is a bad date, there is no doubt about it.

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“I always think the week after a Major is very hard. But if Rory and Shane want it the week after the Open, to me, having Rory and Shane here is 75 per cent of the challenge. I’d be making everything they want happen.”

McIlroy insists it’s up to the European Tour but he agreed something has to give and vowed to continue to support the event. “Ultimately, it’s up to the European Tour and where they see this event,” McIlroy said.

“I don’t think this is the ideal date. I don’t know what the ideal date is.

I mean the Scottish Open is locked in before The Open, which is understandable. World-ranking points for first place next week is close to 60, this week it’s 28.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing it going back to the week after The Open but whether that encourages a few guys to stay one more week, I don’t know.

“Having this chat with Shane the other day, being after The Open might be nice for us. Maybe selfishly, we could relax more, having the last Major of the season over.

“Our focus is on here but with one eye towards what’s going to happen in a couple of weeks. We’ve tried a few dates. In May it worked when I was hosting and said I’d do favours for other players and they came over.

“Selfishly, I can’t keep doing that every year. It should stay on the schedule, it should certainly be one of the strongest events in Europe because it’s been on the schedule for so long. That’s something the European Tour will have to talk about.”

McIlroy might have missed the cut in the Irish Open more than at any other event but he vowed to continue supporting it, admitting that skipping Lahinch in 2019 was a mistake.

“Of course, I’ll try to play every Irish Open if it makes sense and suits what I’m going to do. There’s been a couple I’ve missed – last year at Galgorm with Covid and then the decision I made not to play at Lahinch thinking, ‘OK, well, I’m going to be playing (The Open) in Ireland in a couple of weeks’ time.’

“I wanted to play the Scottish (Open) and maybe three in a row wasn’t right prep. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the right idea. That’s why I decided to add Scottish this week, so I’ll play three weeks in a row.

“I’ve played every one from that. I’ve no plans to make it a regular thing to skip. I love playing in front of these crowds. I wish I gave them more to shout about this week.”

McDowell was due to host last year but will likely step in next year and while he’d love to return to Northern Ireland with Portstewart a more likely venue than Royal Portrush should the R&A take The Open back to the Dunluce links in 2025, he has no objections to Mount Juliet.

“I haven’t been involved in talks but it would be nice to get this event back on a large scale.

“I really enjoyed this week and the hotel.

“If you are going to be in prison for the week, it might as well be a five-star prison camp.”



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