Paul Casey's disappointment at just missing out on the European Order of Merit title was eased yesterday when he was named the Tour's Golfer of the Year.
After suffering an horrific slump in 2005 - he went four months without making a single cut - Casey came back to win three times in the 2006 season, including the £1 million first prize at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, and played a starring role in the Ryder Cup victory.
Team-mate Padraig Harrington was the player to pip him to the order of merit crown, but the Dubliner won only once during the year and contributed just half a point to the success over the Americans.
Casey, who holed in one during the foursomes and beat current world No 2 Jim Furyk in the singles, was on course to finish as the circuit's No 1 until he fell ill at the season-ending Volvo Masters.
The 29-year-old would still have edged out Harrington if Sergio Garcia had not bogeyed the final hole.
Darren Clarke's emotional three points out of three in the Ryder Cup just six weeks after the death of his wife was also considered by a panel of golf writers and broadcasters, but Casey won the vote.
"It is a tremendous honour to be named European Tour Golfer of the Year," he said.
"To win three times during the 2006 season and play a part in Europe's record-breaking third successive Ryder Cup victory before finishing runner-up to Padraig in the Order of Merit was extremely satisfying, although it goes without saying that I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the Harry Bardon Trophy.
"The race for the No 1 position with Padraig, David Howell and Robert Karlsson was truly exceptional and, I believe, fired the imagi-nation of the golfing public in Europe.
"Many great golfers have won the European Tour Golfer of the Year accolade."
Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo said: "It was a very gutsy turnaround by Paul this season after a disappointing 2005 by his own high standards.
"He was outstanding in the Ryder Cup and his hole in one at the K Club was the shot of the year in my book. His performances will set him up nicely for 2007.