On what was the national day in their homeland, Australians Leishman and Herbert made it an extra special Australia Day with narrow victories on the PGA TOUR and European Tour.
First honours went to Herbert at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai as he won a play-off with South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout after the paired had both survived a desert storm to finish on nine-under par, two shots clear of the rest, after matching 68s on a dramatic final day.
Honours remained even after the first extra hole despite Herbert finding the water with his second shot and needing an up and down to halve the hole. But the 24-year-old Australian got the job done with a birdie four on the 18th to seal his first European Tour success—and his first tournament as a professional.
“If you go back and watch any sort of winner’s final nine holes, or final round or playoff holes, it’s never like a perfect scenario,” Herbert said after his victory. “Everyone will probably forget about that now that I’ve gotten it up and down and then won the tournament.”
Referencing the bushfires back in Australia, Herbert added: “Obviously there’s some pretty awful stuff happening right now in Australia with the fires.
“Everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on the first playoff hole. That’s nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers putting out the fires. Sending all my love back home and hope everyone is well.”
Time might have ticked over to the day after Australia Day by the time Leishman got across the line by one shot in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, but that didn’t stop it being a memorable double success for Australia.
Leishman had solid form at Torrey Pines, being twice a runner-up, and he ensured this was to be his year by holding off a challenge from 2017 winner Jon Rahm by a single shot on 14-under par for the week.
The 36-year-old Leishman is now a five-time PGA TOUR winner and he said: “My first few years on the TOUR, you’re just hoping to keep your card, just have a job. Once you get that first one…it kind of validates it if you can get two and then you can get more.
“I didn’t really ever imagine I would be a five-time TOUR winner, to be honest. As a kid you don’t expect this. You dream to be on the PGA TOUR one day and all of a sudden to have five victories, it’s a great feeling.
“So I feel lucky. This is a pretty sweet victory just because I’ve come close here a few times. From my first year on TOUR I felt like this is a place I could win at and then to finally do it my 12th year on TOUR is really satisfying.”