Making it to Augusta and the Masters every April remains the greatest carrot in golf despite the growing and seemingly endless millions of dollars available in prize money to the world’s best players.
It‘s at the forefront of Lucas Herbert’s thoughts as he plays out the rest of 2023 with a aim of a return to the world’s top 50 and is the unfathomable prize awaiting the winner of a massive Royal Melbourne event in October.
Herbert has slipped marginally out of the world’s top 50, which remains the cut-off, without meeting any other qualification criteria, to return to Augusta having taken a longer than expected break after missing the cut at The Open.
But the Victorian, currently 57th, has created a playing schedule to see out 2023 including the Australian Open and PGA which could arrest that slide from his season-high of 42, and ensure the ticket-requests from his friends seeking their own passage to golf’s Disneyland continues.
Herbert’s quest is the same for every player who later this month will tee it up in the Asia-Pacific amateur at Royal Melbourne, which is run by Augusta National Golf Club and gifts the winner a golden ticket to both the Masters and the 2024 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Australian young gun Harrison Crowe, who will play his first professional event at the WA open this week, was the winner last year and Herbert said professional or amateur, getting to Augusta trumped nearly all other golfing goals.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere else that I think you talk to any of the best players in the world and Augusta is their main focus on the golfing calendar for the year,” he said.
“You talk to anyone outside the top 50 in the world, the only thing they want to do is to find a way to get to Augusta every year.
”It’s you know, it’s one of my biggest goals toward the end of the year is to get back into the top 50 in the world so I can be there again in April.
“I think I probably spent 12 months after the event last year just telling stories to anyone.
“It’s probably the one tournament for me for the year that I’m literally, I’m really just happy participating in it.
“I think any of the other majors, any other event, you know, I’m there solely to win and participation is not of any interest to me. There’s something special about the place that the whole experience of the tournament its so amazing whether you make the cut, miss the cut, finish top 10, finish dead-last.”
There will be 10 Australians looking to emulate Crowe’s feat from last year and the reigning champ, who turned professional last month and can’t defend his title, said there was only one way to succeed.
“Try not to think about the reward that comes out of it, the Masters and The Open,” he said.
“So I think it’s just put yourself there and try not to think too much about that.”
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship will be played at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from October 26-29.