SYDNEY (Reuters) - Lucas Herbert outshone major winners Jordan Spieth and Jason Day with a sparkling 66 to take the lead at the Australian Open on Friday before reflecting on the less glamorous aspects of life as a golf professional.
The Australian took the plunge into the pro ranks in 2015, a year after driving 11 hours from Melbourne to Sydney and sleeping in his car to finish as the leading amateur at his national Open.
Two years on and the 21-year-old is finding the realities of being a professional are not as he imagined they would be.
“You see guys getting invites on tour, flying in private jets everywhere, staying in five-star hotels and you think that’s what you’re going to get,” he said.
“Then you turn pro and you’re so horribly mistaken. It’s such a sudden realisation.
“I was laughing at these guys for going and playing a Pro-Am and now I can see, okay, that’s pretty important and I actually need to go and do that as well.”
Herbert won A$40,400 ($30,772.68) by finishing second at the New South Wales Open last week but he is also finding that playing for money adds an extra level of pressure.
“As an amateur you stand there and you could hit it in a five-yard slot and then you stand up there as a pro and now it’s for your living, and you’re like ‘please hit the ball, please make contact and don’t be a YouTube hit’,” he said.
“I was really struggling on the Friday of the tournaments because I knew that was cut day. It was like, be three inside a cut line and be worried about that, not worried about trying to make three more birdies and get up near the lead.
“I obviously made some last week so the pressure’s off a bit this week, but when the bank balance is getting down, Fridays started getting pretty nervous then.”
Herbert was in no danger of missing the cut on Friday after mixing six birdies with a single bogey to lead major winner and former world number one Day by a stroke at the halfway point of the tournament.
The big-hitting Victorian said he would not be lacking for friends after a such a good day.
“I’ll go and look at my phone in 10 minutes’ time and there’ll be 50 messages on there, and 45 of them are from people that you don’t hear from until you start playing well and they see you on TV,” he said.
For all the pressures, though, Herbert said the rewards, however modest, were immensely gratifying.
“I made money from the end of last year and I went and bought a TV and I went and bought a couch and I was like, man, I earned that,” he said.
“Even the little things, go out for breakfast, I earned this. It’s definitely massively gratifying to know that you earned everything along the way.”
($1 = 1.3129 Australian dollars)
Editing by Peter Rutherford