Melbourne’s Lucas Herbert, who will play in this year’s Open Championship, is part of a strong Australian contingent at this week’s PGA TOUR Series-China International Qualifying Tournament No. 1, the first of two back-to-back 72-hole qualifiers at Mission Hills Haikou’s Sandbelt Trails Course.
The top-15 finishers will earn full cards on the 2018 PGA TOUR Series-China, while the next 25 finishers will be conditionally exempt. The top-five on this year’s Order of Merit will earn a place on the 2019 Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.
Herbert recently earned a place at The 147th Open at Carnoustie with a tie for eighth at the Asian Tour’s SMBC Singapore Open, won by Sergio Garcia, the latest in a string of good results for the 22-year-old.
Herbert placed eighth on the 2017 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit after ending the year by finishing runner-up at the New South Wales Open, tied-sixth at the Emirates Australian Open and joint-seventh at the Australian PGA Championship. Now, he’s looking for more opportunities abroad.
“The PGA TOUR is the ultimate ambition. I love being in America so any way to play a Tour that will get me status there, I’ll take with two hands. I played amateur golf in the U.S. in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and just really enjoyed the lifestyle,” said Herbert, whose friends Ryan Ruffels and 2016 Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Curtis Luck are current Web.com Tour members.
“I’ve seen Ryan and Curtis come through, and I’d love to play with them in the U.S. I’d like to play on this Tour in China and in Canada (Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada) and give myself some options for the middle of the year, when the Australasian Tour is pretty quiet.”
Herbert reached as high as third in the World Amateur Golf Ranking before turning pro in November 2015 and the following year showed his potential with a runner-up finish at the Isuzu Queensland Open and a tie for eighth at the New South Wales Open. However, it’s his results from the past three months that have propelled to him to just outside the world’s top 200.
“My form had always been there, but I just didn’t have anywhere to play [outside of Australia]. Last year I played a few Monday qualifiers in Canada, but once I got a good run of events going at the end of last year, I was able to really take advantage of that and get some good results in.”
Herbert is joined in this week’s field by compatriots Nabil Abdul, Doeun An, Joe Darcy, Corey Hale, DJ Loypur, Andrew Schonewille, Brady Watt and Kevin Yuan, although Hamza Amin’s participation was in doubt due to visa complications.
After a one-year hiatus, PGA TOUR Series-China will resume in March, with a 14-tournament schedule, with each tournament offering RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016. The Mainland China Qualifying Tournament for China passport holders will be held at Wolong Lake Golf Club in Liuzhou City in Guangxi from February 27-March 2 (Tuesday-Friday).
The PGA TOUR established PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. Since its inception, PGA TOUR Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.