One of the European Tour’s best-kept secrets is no longer unknown on the PGA Tour.
Lucas Herbert, a 26-year-old Australia native, who has played most of his professional golf on the other side of the Atlantic, notched his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday, winning the Butterfield Bermuda Championship by one stroke over the much more well-known Patrick Reed and Danny Lee.
Having to fight through brutal winds at Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course, Herbert overcame a four-stroke 54-hole deficit to Canada’s Taylor Pendrith with a final-round 2-under 69. It was just the 20th career PGA Tour start for Herbert, who has won twice on the European Tour – once each of the past two years.
Lee (who began the final day three behind Pendrith) and Herbert both made an early challenge to Pendrith’s lead, with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3, while Pendrith parred both, putting Lee within one and Herbert just two.
Herbert carded pars on the next five holes, with the last of them – a difficult up-and-down after a poor tee shot following a weather delay – being especially impressive. Meanwhile, Pendrith was no longer able to get away with pars, as he posted three straight bogeys on Nos. 6, 7, and 8. Herbert then bogeyed the par-4 9th, and at the turn, it was Lee who was one shot ahead of both Herbert and Pendrith at 15-under-par.
The script then flipped greatly in Herbert’s favor on the back nine. All three parred 10 and 11, but Herbert played Nos. 12, 13, and 14 to birdie, bogey, and birdie, snagging the lead in the process, while Pendrith parred all three, and Lee completely fell apart with a double bogey on 12, followed by bogeys on 13 and 14.
Up ahead, Reed, a former Masters champion, was in the midst of a back-nine tear, carding birdies on four of his final six holes to shoot 6-under 65 and capture the clubhouse lead at 14-under par. He then waited to see if his score would hold.
It did not hold.
Lee, suddenly four strokes behind Herbert, rebounded from his 12 through 14 disaster with birdies on 15, 16, and 17. Herbert parred all three, and Pendrith put the nail into his final chances with a double-bogey on the par-5 17th.
Pendrith played the final round to 5-over 76 to finish a disappointing tie for fifth. Going to the final hole, Herbert had a one-stroke lead on both Lee and Reed.
Lee was able to get up and down from the rough for par, but Herbert’s matching par prevented a three-way playoff, and gave Herbert his maiden big tour victory.
The next closest finisher was American Patrick Rodgers, who birdied two of his last three holes to shoot 1-under 70 and finish 13 under, good for solo fourth-place.
Butterfield Bermuda Championship
Leaderboard: Top 10
Pos-Player-Score (Final Rd)
1. Lucas Herbert -15 (-2)
2. Patrick Reed -14 (-6)
2. Danny Lee -14 (E)
4. Patrick Rodgers -13 (-1)
5. Scott Stallings -12 (-9)
5. Taylor Pendrith -12 (+5)
7. Davis Riley -11 (-4)
7. J.J. Spaun -11 (-3)
7. Peter Malnati -11 (E)
7. Curtis Thompson -11 (-1)
7. Vincent Whaley -11 (+1)
Pos-Player-Score (Final Rd)
12. Russell Knox -10 (-4)
12. Graeme McDowell -10 (-4)
12. Brian Gay -10 (-3)
30. Matt Fitzpatrick -6 (+1)
46. Adam Hadwin -3 (+2)
46. Luke Donald -3 (+4)
How Lucas Herbert Won The Bermuda Championship
Herbert had gotten on a hot streak back in June, chasing two top 20s in the US (T18, T19) with a victory at the European Tour’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, followed by a T4 at the abrdn Scottish Open.
He had won a European Tour event in 2020 as well, taking a prestigious event in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where he outlasted Christiaan Bezudenhout, who was also in the Bermuda field this week, in a playoff.
Since that T4 in Scotland, however, Herbert’s play dropped off, as he missed his next two cuts. He got his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs, where a T4 at the opening event got him the finish he needed, but he played the next two events T58 and T45 respectively.
The Aussie then played the first two events of the 2022 PGA Tour season: the Fortinet Championship and the Sanderson Farms Championship, missing the cut in both. The Bermuda was his first start since those missed weekends.
A 1-under 70 at Port Royal in the first round was nothing special, but he exploded with back-to-back 6-under 65s to position himself as a top chaser heading into Sunday’s finale.
For the week, his 19 birdies ranked 7th in the field, while he had just six bogeys in the blustery conditions. He finished outside the top 70 in the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, but he was fourth in scrambling, and consistently made the putts he needed to, when he needed them.
Herbert’s Winning Numbers
Driving: 289.5 yards (7th)
Fairways: 51.8% (44th)
Greens: 62.5% (58th)
Putts/GIR: 1.667 (10th)
Birdies: 19 (7th)
What It Means For Herbert
With the victory, Herbert jumped from 57th to a career-high 43rd in the world rankings, passing big names in Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, and Ian Poulter in the process.
He also moved to fifth in the FedExCup standings, and among his new exemptions is an invite to The Masters, the only one of the four majors he had not already played. In seven career major starts, his best finish is a T31 (2020 U.S. Open).
The win also means he does not need to go back to the Korn Ferry Finals to get his Tour card for next season, as he is now exempt the rest of this season, and for all of the following two seasons (2022-23 and 2023-24).
Herbert’s 2022 PGA Tour Season
Cuts Made: 1
Wins: 1 (Bermuda Championship)
Money: $1,170,000 (7th)
FEC Pts: 500 (5th)
OWGR Before/After: 57/43
Far and away the best performance on Sunday came from three-time PGA Tour winner (although none since the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open) Scott Stallings.
The 36-year-old began the final day in a share of 50th place, 14 strokes behind Pendrith, but was unstoppable in round 4, shooting a bogey-free 9-under 62 to jump all the way to a share of fifth.
The 62 was the best Sunday round by three strokes, and was the second-best round shot for the entire week, with only Pendrith’s second-round 10-under 61 being lower.
Brian Gay made himself among those to watch by finishing T3 at the inaugural Bermuda Championship in 2019, and the winner of the 2020 edition. However, the defending champion had been a disaster since that victory, with 14 missed cuts in 18 starts, and nothing better than a T46.
Early on, it did not look like Port Royal would even be enough to get him out of his slump, as he opened with a disappointing 4-over 75. However, the 49-year-old battled back going 67-64 in the second and third rounds, and on Sunday, four front-nine birdies, and an eagle 2 on the par-4 final hole meant a 3-under 68 that got him to a respectable T12 for the championship.
Among the three players to shoot a 4-under 67, the third-best round of the day, the highest finisher was Davis Riley, who used three birdies in his last five holes and rose 15 spots from T22 to T7. Playing his 15th career Tour event, the T7 was his first career top 10 finish.
Pendrith’s birdie-free round was the biggest stumble, but the Canadian was far from the only player defeated by the Sunday conditions. The second highest-ranked player in the field this week was England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, who came into the week at 26th in the OWGR, with only Patrick Reed being ranked higher (24th).
The large favorite played well in the middle rounds after an underwhelming opening 71, but he was not able to finish the week on a strong note, playing the back nine in 3-over to shoot a 1-over 72 and drop eight places from T22 to T30.
It was one step forward, two steps back in Bermuda for former world No. 1 Luke Donald. The 43-year-old Brit had missed 24 cuts in 36 starts over the past two years, with nothing better than a T13, but he played reasonably well through three rounds this week with a 66 on Friday and a 68 on Sunday.
However, his 4-over 75 caused him to plummet 24 spots down the final leaderboard from T22 to T26.
Sunday’s biggest drop came from the young Italian Guido Migliozzi. The 24-year-old made waves with a T4 back at the U.S. Open back in June, which was his first career start on U.S. soil.
The man who posted three runner-ups on the European Tour this year bounced back from an opening 72 with a 65 in round 2 and a 69 in round 3, but he was horrendous in the final round with five bogeys over his final seven holes to shoot a 6-over 77 that dropped him a field-high 35 spots from T22 to T57.
Thriving in the Elements
“I love playing when it’s really hot; it makes you be that little bit better, it just eliminates the golfers that aren’t as good at hitting shots that don’t get affected by wind or rain as much.
“I just enjoyed the struggle today, there are times where you’re sitting on the ground behind an umbrella, and just embracing that was so much fun.”
– Lucas Herbert, Butterfield Bermuda Champion