Lucas Herbert made his first appearance in Europe this season a memorable one as he clinched the Irish Open title at Mount Juliet. The Australian made it a wire-to-wire success, earning a place in the upcoming Open Championship in the process, as he finished with a 68 for an aggregate of 269, 19 under par.
Coming off a pair of top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour in June, Herbert kept up his good form in winning by three shots. Herbert won the Dubai Desert Classic last year and this week's triumph makes it two European Tour titles in his career for the 25-year-old from Bendigo.
Second place on 16 under went to 34-year-old Swede Rikard Karlberg, a lowly 611 in the world rankings. Karlberg finished with three birdies in the final four holes to post a closing 67, while Johannes Veerman of the United States took third on 15 under after a 71, bogeying the last.
The top three will be teeing it up at Royal St George's on July 15 for The Open, receiving the spots allocated to the leading players in the Irish Open who were not already assured of places in the major.
Herbert said of his win: "It's a bit fulfilling really. I feel like I was probably nearly at one of my low points in my life when I played here two years ago at the Irish Open."
At the Lahinch course in County Clare, Herbert had a 77 in his third round of that 2019 tournament before finishing with 65 to tie for 55th place.
"I feel like I've done full swing and come back round and won the event I was at a pretty low point at," Herbert said on Sky Sports. "It's pretty satisfying."
He is relishing the prospect of heading to Kent for The Open, saying: "It's awesome when you get to play an Open Championship. They're some of the best venues in the world and test you so much strategically. I'm stoked to get that start."
Richard Bland, the 48-year-old who broke his 478-tournament wait for a first win at the British Masters in May, and led after 36 holes of the U.S. Open, finished his week in Ireland in style with a 67 to take a share of fourth place.
The reigning Open champion, Ireland's Shane Lowry, settled for a share of 23rd that was sweetened by a 66 on Sunday.
Lowry is relishing his major title defence, after last year's Open was cancelled due to the pandemic.
"I'll be fine I think," Lowry told the European Tour website. "I'm used to having that kind of label on my head and it's fine. I'll just go there and be myself and play my own game and hopefully it's good enough to have a chance at the weekend."
Former Open champion Rory McIlroy finished a disappointing performance with a 74 to tie for 59th place.