Defending Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion, Lucas Herbert, is brimming with confidence ahead of his return to the Emirates Golf Club.
Last year the 25-year-old Aussie claimed the biggest win of his young career in Dubai after defeating Christian Bezuidenhout in a tense play-off.
Here is what Lucas had to say on his chances of going back-to-back this week, the sudden equipment change that helped him to victory last year and what life is currently like inside the European Tour bubble.
What is it like coming back to the site of you biggest career win to date?
Although I haven't been here at the Emirates Golf Club in a year the good feelings came flooding back as soon as I arrived.
The course itself, the views of the surrounding buildings and even the little details, like the signage around the place, just brings those feelings of success straight back to the forefront of my mind.
They are definitely some good vibes around this place.
How vivid are the memories of the shots you hit last year?
I can recall pretty much every shot I hit down the stretch on Sunday. In fact, there isn’t much about that week that I don’t recall. It’s pretty hard to forget and I want to remember it all. There was so much that happened that week that sent my confidence skyrocketing.
Whenever I’m having a rough time I watch the footage from last year’s final round to inspire me, apart from the 3-wood I hit into 18 on the first play-off hole of course (it ended up in the water hazard). Visually replaying those shots and memories always helps to bring my confidence back.
What is about the course that suits your eye?
It sets up really well for me. Driving the golf ball is one of my strengths and there are two or three drive-able par-4s that fit my eye perfectly. Plus, the par-5s are usually reachable in two.
This presents me with a lot of close pitch shots into greens where I’m trying to get up-and-down for birdie, which plays perfectly into my strengths.
Also, there aren’t many holes on the course that set up for a fade, which is ideal for me. I love hitting the ball from right to left.
Defending the title this week it’s really a case of me getting out my own way because I know my game is in good shape and the course is a perfect fit for my game.
What was it like having some fans in attendance last week?
Having fans at the Tournament in Abu Dhabi last week was brilliant. There were maybe only 100 people following us around but that felt like a huge crowd given the fact we haven’t seen any fans in almost a year.
It so nice having fans, even in a limited capacity, back watching us. It just helps bring a good atmosphere to the course and you start to get that buzz going.
Have you made any equipment changes ahead of this week?
I’m currently testing the new TaylorMade SIM2 driver and I love it. I probably won’t put it in play quite yet as I want to do some more testing at home before replacing my SIM. I’m usually pretty particular with my equipment and like to take my time with testing.
That being said, at this event last year I switched from the TaylorMade TP5x golf ball to the TP5 model. Switching golf ball is something that will usually take quite a bit of time to adjust. On the range last year, however, I said I wanted to try something different. I hadn’t played on the course at all with the TP5 and then won.
I don’t like to make rushed decisions on equipment changes but that one clearly worked out nicely.
What has your downtime been like given the current COVID restrictions?
It’s been very chill. We’re limited in what we can do away from the course as we’re taking the necessary precautions to ensure the tour remains a safe place to compete.
When not at the golf course I’ve been mainly in my hotel room just listening to music, watching Netflix and I’ve brought my PlayStation with me.
It’s not been too bad to be honest, and if it helps to keep everyone on the tour safe and allows us to continue playing then it really isn’t bad at all.
What are your expectations for this week?
Playing in a tournament with such a strong field is always a lot of fun and really motivates me to perform. Playing against the best players in the world is the best test of your game.
I know that if I play to my potential I can win this week and my game definitely feels in good enough shape to do so.