Golf: Herbert celebrates Australia Day with maiden title in Dubai

Golf - European Tour - Dubai Desert Classic - Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - January 26, 2020 Australia's Lucas Herbert celebrates winning the Dubai Desert Classic with the trophy REUTERS/Satish Kumar Subramani

(Reuters) – Lucas Herbert marked Australia Day in his native country by claiming his maiden European Tour title after beating Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a thrilling playoff at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.

Herbert saved par on the first extra hole after hitting his approach shot into the water, before returning to the same green to roll in the winning birdie.

Earlier, Bezuidenhout and Herbert had finished with final rounds of four-under-par 68 as they emerged from way back in the field to finish nine-under overall — two shots clear of England’s Tom Lewis, South African Dean Burmester and Spaniard Adri Arnaus.

South African Bezuidenhout found the water on the final hole but recovered with a clutch putt for bogey, while Herbert came home with back-to-back birdies.

Last year’s champion Bryson DeChambeau grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on the 13th but fell away in windy conditions, finishing with four straight bogeys in a 76.

Overnight leader Wu Ashun of China took sixth spot alongside American Kurt Kitayama at six under, finishing a shot ahead of Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Scot Robert MacIntyre and DeChambeau.

But the day belonged to Herbert, whose victory in his 50th European Tour appearance will move him back into the top 100 of the world rankings.

“It’s the best thing ever, it’s so good,” the 24-year-old said. “We’ve got a bottle of scotch at home to celebrate back in Australia so I can’t wait to get into that with the boys.”

Herbert dedicated his win to those affected by the bushfires in Australia in recent months.

“There’s some pretty awful stuff happening in Australia right now with the fires… 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.”

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