Lucas Herbert claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a dramatic play-off against Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Lucas Herbert emerged as the surprise winner on Sunday as the early leaders struggled with the testing weather conditions and fell out of contention, defeating Christiaan Bezuidenhout on the second play-off hole.
Bezuidenhout held a two stroke lead in the 18th fairway but a costly mistake left him with a final hole bogey to open the door for Herbert, who finished his round with back-to-back birdies to force sudden-death.
It looked like Bezuidenhout then had the advantage on the first trip back up the 18th after Herbert found the water with his 'worst ever shot', but he managed to scramble a par before going on to hit the longest drive of the tournament at the next and making birdie to clinch his first European Tour title.
"It's the best thing ever, it's so good," Herbert said after his win, before referencing the fires in his home country of Australia. "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.
"There's some pretty average stuff happening in Australia right now with the fires and Cam Smith said it a couple of weeks ago when he won, everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on that first play-off hole.
"That's nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers that are putting out the fires so i'm sending all my love back home."
Herbert and Bezuidenhout were two of just four players to break 80 in Dubai on Sunday in blustery conditions, matching round of the day four-under 68s as they came from six shots behind overnight leader Ashun Wu.
Wu had begun the day with six straight pars and a birdie at the seventh to consolidate his position at the top of the leaderboard, but began to struggle from there as he added four bogeys and a double bogey to end his day with a five-over 77.
Meanwhile, Bezuidenhout emerged as the player to catch thanks to early birdies at the fourth and seventh holes to make the turn in 33.
He followed it with back to back birdies from the 10th and added another at the 11th to move in to the lead at 10-under.
Standing on the 18th tee, Bezuidenhout held a two stroke lead, but after laying up, his third shot hit the green and spun back in to the water before he got up and down to save bogey.
Herbert, in the group behind Bezuidenhout, had started his round with a dropped shot before birdies at the second and third holes, which he followed with six straight pars to make the turn at six-under.
He then sandwiched a bogey between birdies at both the 11th and 13th holes to get to seven under, and finished off his round by taking advantage of Bezuidenhout's mistake with back-to-back birdies to force extra holes.
After a brilliant drive it was Herbert who seemingly blinked first, hitting his second shot in to the water and telling his caddie it was the 'worst shot I've ever hit'. But his recovery was sublime, hitting his fourth to near tap-in distance and halving the hole with a par.
The second trip up the 18th went a lot more smoothly for Herbert: After hitting the longest drive of the week, he put his second shot on to the green before getting up and two putted for birdie, and victory.
His win, which comes in his 50th European Tour event, moves him back into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Adri Arnaus, Tom Lewis and Dean Burmester, who was involved in a car crash before Thursday's round, finished in a tie for third place on seven-under, while Kurt Kitayama and Ashun Wu shared sixth on a shot further back.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who was on nine-under after the 14th, bogeyed his four final holes to end up with a final round 76 to end in a tie for eighth with Robert MacIntyre and Mike Lorenzo Vera.