Amid a round of 10 birdies and six straight birdies at one point and a nine-under 63 score, his lowest score in about a year and a lead in the first round of the Fortinet Championship, Lucas Herbert hit a wayward drive. and he missed a putt. And that’s part of perhaps the biggest story of his Thursday in beautiful Napa, California.
On the 409-yard par 4-6. Course at Silverado Resort, Herbert threw his tee shot to the right into chaos. He recovered. He kept throwing. He had 13 feet to save par. He didn’t score. He did something stupid.
He went to 7.
“Yeah, I wasn’t – again, I felt like I was in a better place,” Herbert said, “could handle it a lot better and just move on to the next hole and not play the situation any differently.”
“Just play the shot that was in front of me.”
In his eight years as a professional, Herbert was solid. He has won once on the PGA Tour, at the 2021 Bermuda Championship. He has won internationally three times. But he panicked. Golf and life can do that. After the Open Championship in July, Herbert stopped playing. He returned this week. He shot 63.
How? What happened? That’s his business. But Herbert shared. He didn’t have to. He revealed that there were times when he would have been okay with flights to tournaments being cancelled.
That he played the guitar.
That he “probably would have become a bitter and spiteful person.”
That he picked up the rackets again a few weeks ago.
We will base this story on questions from Napa reporters.
“We were a little curious about this break because you haven’t played since the Open Championship. We are not aware of any injuries you have sustained. 152nd in FedExCup points and you took two months off.”
“Yes, 152nd in the FedExCup. Golf has given me a lot of trouble this year. It was just a difficult phase with a lot going on both in my life and on the golf course. Yes, I missed the cut at the Open. I didn’t really want to think or talk about golf for about a good month there. I just needed to escape the game and refresh everything. Yes, it sucked. I’d like to be here or up in the FedExCup standings, but hopefully after this good break, refreshment and little restart I’ll have a better chance of playing well in the fall season, getting better results and getting back into the bigger events next year .”
“Was your break planned or did it just happen?” How did that happen?
“It was planned for a few weeks. I felt like I was traveling to Europe for the Scottish and the Open. If I probably wasn’t in the top 100 after those two events, I wouldn’t bother watching the playoffs. I just knew I needed that mental reset. Yes, it doesn’t look like the best decision from the outside, but I really needed a fresh start. Yes, I was able to just get away from golf for a while. It was nice. I went and spent some time with people where I wasn’t the center of everyone’s life that day. I had the opportunity to be part of other people’s lives, something we as golfers aren’t allowed to do. I felt like coming here this week I was ready to play again. I think for a while I felt like if my flights to a tournament were canceled and there was no other way to get there, I would have been happy to go home, like, oh, good, a week off . I feel like if that had happened this week I would have been upset; I was ready to go. That kind of tells me I was in a good frame of mind again to come out here and just deal with the adversity on the golf course.”
“Was it your golf that disappointed you?”
“It was a lot of stuff. I just think a lot happened for me this year. I had a lot to deal with off the golf course, and when I got on the course it felt like I was at 80 percent idle. I just had no room for anything to go wrong, I had no room to deal with it. Yeah, it was good to just get away from the game a little bit, take care of some of those things in my life and feel like maybe I could scale that back down a little bit so I could function a little easier.”
“When you’re not playing golf, what have you been doing?”
“So I hadn’t met most of my girlfriend’s relatives and friends and so on. She’s from Maine, so I went there and spent a lot of time with her family and friends. I’ve never been to Maine, just spent some time up there. Yeah, like anything that’s just gone from the game. Some kind of music, so I played some music. I’m not really good at it.
“Guitar. And I also bought a house earlier this year, so there’s always work to do around the house too, so I did a lot of those things. I played so much it felt like I was one week at home and couldn’t get anything done. You spend two days on the couch and then practice the rest of the week. Here and there tasks just couldn’t get done and things couldn’t be organized, so it was actually nice to cross out a few of those projects too .
“When did you pick up the thugs again?”
“What is today, Thursday? That’s how it must have been – it was two weeks ago tomorrow, two weeks ago tomorrow. Yes, Friday two weeks ago.”
“Lucas, it sounds to me like you feel like you’re a more well-rounded person than you were before the break. I wonder how that helps you on the golf course, perspective and things like that?”
“Yeah, I mean, thank you. I take it as a compliment. Yes, I think I would probably become a bitter and spiteful person. Not an exaggeration, but I didn’t like the version of myself that I see looking back at the Open Championship. I think I was quite tense and lashed out at the people around me too quickly and too easily. I think, yes, the break was a good opportunity for me to get away and rethink, just escape this life. I just think you’re under so much pressure, so much external and internal pressure put on you to play well. Yeah, to get away from it, you’re kind of able to find yourself a little bit. When I spoke to one of the rules officials earlier in the week, I felt like I could just come here and be like a better person. The people around me, my relationships, you know, family, friends, that only benefits. And yes, that was perhaps the only thing that interested me in coming here this week. And it’s really nice to get 63, but I’ll do my best to go out tomorrow with the same mindset and that’s the main focus of the week.”
“Were you just being too hard on yourself?”
“Yeah. I mean, you’ve won twice in 2021, third start as a member, I’m winning straight away on the PGA Tour, you’re competing in the biggest events against the best players, I think it was just whether there was pressure is from the outside or just like that. There’s an expectation internally that you just keep moving up, keep getting better and keep getting the same results in better fields. It doesn’t take much to be out here. If you don’t get some of those results , it just gets worse and you put more pressure on yourself and it gets worse and very quickly you can go down a slippery slope. It’s pretty hard to take time off in the middle of the season. Go tell me to miss Memorial, I never will; it’s such a great event, but it was probably exactly what I needed at the time. I just didn’t have the ability to do it. Somehow it came about a point, some kind of breaking point, I just had to do it. I haven’t really seen much golf. I think I may have watched the playoff hole when Lucas Glover won at Memphis, and I think I watched the last two holes when Viktor [Hovland] won in Atlanta, and that was the only golf game I saw for six weeks. To be honest, it was just nice to be able to get away from the game.”
After the 10-minute session, a reporter had a question about the sequence on June 6th.
“As you say, you were able to just shake it off and move on. You obviously had a great back nine. Would that have lasted a little longer in the earlier version of you?”
“In the earlier version it sounds like I’m two different people. No, yes, I think two months ago I probably wouldn’t have shrugged it off so much and would have been a little harder on myself. It felt good, it felt free to just not sit there and beat myself up for it.”
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