Golf Club de Genève once again plays host to the Rolex Trophy this week, where former winner Benjamin Hebert will hope to notch another career-changing triumph in Switzerland.
Three years ago the Frenchman went on a run that saw him pick up a trio of wins in just five starts on the second tier that summer, a feat that earned the man from Moliets an immediate place on The European Tour.
Hebert would not quite rekindle that form the following year en route to a 176th place finish on the 2012 Race to Dubai, and while he continued to struggle last year upon his return to the European Challenge Tour, he now looks back to somewhere near his best as he contends for titles once again.
After his only missed cut of the season at the first event of the year – the Barclays Kenya Open – the 27 year old has been incredibly consistent, finishing no worse than a tie for 47th in the following 12 events of 2014.
He came close to a first title in three years at the inaugural Azerbaijan Open Golf Challenge, letting a three stroke 54 hole lead slip en route to a tie for seventh. However he made sure he learned from that experience, showing great strength of character to bounce back just seven days later, as he took the title at the Norwegian Challenge.
“I made a big mistake during the final round in Azerbaijan,” said Hebert. “I did not have any goals in mind, I only wanted to play one shot after the other, but this was not a normal round. I called my coach on the Monday after and he explained that when leading by three shots I needed to have a score goal, or greens in regulation objective, so as to not let the pressure get too great.
“It was a strange round, as I did not feel too much during the final day, but when I started playing badly I wasn’t able to change how the story was about to be written. It felt bad, too, because it cost me qualification for this event, but then the next week I found myself in the same position.
“It was a tough final round in Norway too, but I played great over the front nine to turn in two under, but then it went a bit fuzzy. I doubled the 11th, which was stupid, and I said to myself ‘not again’ and thankfully I managed to hole some putts coming in and win.”
“It has totally changed my perspective for the season, moving from a poor category to a winner’s one. The goal is now to play on The European Tour next year. My target is to earn another €30,000 the rest of the season, so another win or a second place in a big event should do that.”
As a result of his win a fortnight ago, Hebert now finds himself 11th on the Challenge Tour Rankings and in position to gain a place in that all important top 15, which graduates at the end of the season.
After what he describes as “two years in hell” following his ascent to The European Tour, the Frenchman now knows how to get the best out of his game. Too much practice was burning Hebert out before he got to events, but having re-evaluated his approach, and found a new coach, he is now feeling much better about his game.
He therefore heads back to a course, and an event, where he has had success before, after a tense final afternoon three years ago, which he remembers fondly.
“I don’t remember too much about the course, as I have only played the event once, but I remembered the main entrance and the clubhouse when we arrived yesterday,” said Hebert.
“The year I won I lead in the clubhouse quite early in the afternoon, as it was a stormy week and we kept the same tee times from the third round for the final day. I shot a 67 to finish 19 under par, but there were plenty of guys who could catch me, especially Jorge Campillo and Tommy Fleetwood.
“I was waiting back in the hotel with Sebastian Vive, the French physio on Tour, and we were sat looking at the leaderboard. Then when Campillo got within one shot of the lead it was kind of a rush.
“I had to go back to the golf club to warm up in case there was a play-off, taking my jacket for the gala dinner, only to arrive at the range and see that it was closed! Thankfully he did not make a birdie at the last though, and I was able to win.”