Dubai: Australia’s Lucas Herbert battled through high winds, rain showers and a watery grave to record a nail-biting play-off victory over South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout to win the 31st Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.
Herbert became only the second Australian after Richard Green in 1997 to lift the iconic Arabian coffee pot trophy for his maiden European Tour tile in what was his 50th tournament appearance.
Replaying the par-five 18th at the Emirates Golf Club in a sudden-death, Herbert put his second shot into the murky lake lying in front of the course designer Karl Litten’s famed final home at the challenging 7,301-layout.
Bezuidenhout appeared to have the advantage, but the 24-year-old Australian made every shot count as he matched his rival for par, forcing a second play-off.
Second time around, Herbert reached the green in two while Bezuidenhout faced a do-or-die downhill putt from the fringe of the green. He would lay up shot and two-putt for par, while Herbert held his nerve to birdie for what was an incredible victory in testing conditions.
This was only the sixth time in history that the Classic was decided by a play-off.
The Australian’s victory came with a cheque for $541,600 while Bezuidenout took home $361,110 from a total purse of $3.24 million.
There’s some pretty average stuff happening in Australia right now with the fires and Cam Smith said it a couple of weeks ago when he won (the Sony Open in Hawaii). Everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on that first play-off hole
“The last 10 minutes feels like I’ve just been dreaming, he said. “It’s so weird. It’s the best thing ever, it’s so good.”
Hubert then took the opportunity to highlight the battle Australia continues to face against bushfires that have wreaked havoc across the nation and claimed many lives.
“There’s some pretty average stuff happening in Australia right now with the fires and Cam Smith said it a couple of weeks ago when he won (the Sony Open in Hawaii). Everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on that first play-off hole,” he added.
“That’s nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers that are putting out the fires so I’m sending all my love back home.”
Commenting on his mindset and positivity that he brought to Dubai, Herbert revealed: “Last week (in Abu Dhabi) I was probably 20th going into the weekend and for about the 10th time in the last 12 months seemed to just back it out and finished at the back of the field.
“I got really frustrated so put in some really good tactics this week with my mental coach Jamie Glazier, trying to be really positive.
“It’s such a cliche but it works so much, I felt so confident out there,” he added.
Herbert and Bezuidenhout had finished tied on nine under par after matching final rounds of 68, while defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who briefly held a share of the lead at the 13th, bogeyed the last four holes to finish in a tie for eighth.
Bezuidenhout’s compatriot Dean Burmester finished joint third with England’s Tom Lewis (74) and Spain’s Adri Arnaus (70), while overnight leader Ashun Wu suffered a meltdown that saw him finish tied for sixth with American Kurt Kitayama.
Earlier, Swedish player Sebastian Soderberg ran between shots to post the fastest round in European Tour history — just 97 minutes — and shot three-over 75.
-9 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa) 73 66 72 68
Lucas Herbert (Australia) 69 71 71 68
-7 Adri Arnaus (Spain) 72 68 71 70
Dean Burmester (South Africa) 69 68 72 72
Tom Lewis (England) 73 69 65 74
-6 Kurt Kitayama (USA) 69 70 68 75
Ashun Wu (China PR) 69 69 67 77
-5 Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 70 67 70 76
Mike Lorenzo-Vera (France) 74 71 67 71
Robert MacIntyre (Scotland) 74 70 67 72
-4 Tommy Fleetwood (England) 75 65 69 75
David Lipsky (USA) 68 75 71 70
Shane Lowry (Republic of Ireland) 72 69 69 74
Matthieu Pavon (France) 69 71 75 69
Eddie Pepperell (England) 69 67 72 76