Brian McElhinney admitted to nerves so bad before the final of the British amateur championship that he could hardly eat or sleep.
But overcoming them to beat Scot John Gallagher 5&4 at Royal Birkdale yesterday has opened a host of doors for the 22-year-old from County Donegal.
The first Republic of Ireland golfer to take the title since the late and great Joe Carr in 1960, McElhinney can now add to his diary the Open championship at St Andrews next month and the Masters at Augusta next April.
He should soon be able to write in the Walker Cup in Chicago in August as well. The team, which will try to defeat the Americans for the fourth time in a row, is named in four weeks' time.
"I couldn't eat properly and I must have had about three hours' sleep on and off," said McElhinney on his pre-match tension. "Once I was playing I was much better."
And once he was playing he did it much better than former greenkeeper Gallagher, a 24-year-old whose crosshanded grip, left hand below right, brings looks of amazement. Gallagher, though, has always done it that way and since he has a plus-two handicap he is clearly a far more talented golfer than he showed in the final.
Even allowing for the windy conditions, to be an approximate 16 over par for the 32 holes was a bitter disappointment to him and his following.
"I just ran out of gas at the end, but it was a brilliant week," said Gallagher, now hoping to be capped by his country for the first time.
McElhinney is the current Irish champion and a former European champion, so the quality of his game was already known about.
The week also unveiled to a wider audience the rich promise of Oliver Fisher, the 16-year-old from Essex whose bid to become the youngestever winner was stopped only by McElhinney on the final green of their semi-final.
The schoolboy eagled the long 17th to stay alive and his performance may well make him the youngest-ever Walker Cup player. He is not 17 until September, whereas Justin Rose had just celebrated his birthday when he played in 1997. n Australia's Noel Ratcliffe became just the second man to claim two AIB Irish Seniors Open titles when he closed with a one under par 71 to win the 2005 Championship at The Heritage at Killenard yesterday.
The 60-year-old from Sydney emulated the feat of 2001 and 2002 champion Seiji Ebihara with a dogged performance that saw him finish on six under par 216.
Two shots behind was Argentina's Luis Carbonetti, who carded a final round 73, while Scotland's John Chillas closed with a level par 72.
Scotland's Sam Torrance needed a fast start after going into the final round four shots behind Ratcliffe and Carbonetti but his challenged was derailed by a double bogey on the sixth. n Denmark's Iben Tinning made it two wins in three weeks with a one-stroke victory in the £200,000 BMW Ladies Italian Open in Rome.
Joint leader with Asa Gottmo overnight, Tinning saw the challenge of the Swede fade away after her two-under round of 70.