Ulster rookie Gareth Shaw got a massive confidence boost when he grabbed a share of fourth place in the Challenge of Ireland at Glasson.
The Lisburn native, 22, took advantage of a sponsor’s invitation when he closed with a super 69 in just his second start as a professional.
Aussie Andrew Tampion, 23, surged through the field with a sensational 67 to snatch his maiden title by a shot from Richard Bland and David Drysdale on eight-under par.
But former world amateur No 14 Shaw was just as happy after confirming that he has the game to compete with Europe’s top young guns.
Just two shots behind the winner on six-under, Shaw said: “I didn’t really know what to expect but I now know that I have got the game to compete out here.
“I was nervous on the first day and was three over par after two holes. But I got a few nice text messages from guys like GMac (Graeme McDowell) and my manager Conor Ridge and some friends, advising me to play my own game and that’s what I’ve tried to do. So far so good.”
An All-American college star for East Tennessee State university, Shaw watched his amateur rivals join the pro ranks and felt he was good enough to make the grade.
He said: “You look at Joel Sjoholm or Jonas Blixt, who I played against a lot on the amateur circuit college, and they have come out and done well.
“They were at a similar level to me so that assured me that I was good enough. You think, if they can do it, there is no reason why I can’t. I have played them and beaten them before.”
Tied 34th on his debut in Wales last week, his bogey free closing round earned him a cheque for €6,300 and an automatic start in this week’s Lexus Open in Norway.
Fellow Ulsterman Gareth Maybin closed with a 67 to share ninth place on four under move up two places to 13th on the rankings.
Glasson’s Colm Moriarty crashed to a closing 75 that relegated him to tied 24th with Royal County Down’s Simon Thornton as Tampion scorched through the field to win his first event.
Five shots behind overnight, the Melbourne native birdied the second and then reeled off four birdies on the trot from the sixth to turn in a red-hot 31.
He then played the back nine in level par to post the clubhouse target of eight under and watched nervously Bland missed a 25 footer at the 18th to force extra holes.
Tampion said: “It feels great. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve been playing really well lately but not putting as well as I can so to finally hole some putts today and to win my first event is a fantastic feeling.
“I had a good stretch through six with four birdies on the spin. After I went though ten I thought I was in this golf tournament and I played steadily on the back nine.”