West Waterford's Seamus Power took a giant step towards the PGA Tour big time when he closed with an immaculate five under 67 in the United Leasing & Finance Championship in Indiana and looked on as his rivals slipped up to give him his maiden win on the Web.com Tour.
Ranked 47th in the money list heading into the week, the 29-year old East Tennessee State accountancy graduate succeeded PGA Tour star Smylie Kaufman as champion in Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, earning $108,000 (€94,000) to jump 40 place to seventh on the money list with $131,732.
"It's huge," Power said, knowing the Top 25 at the end of the season are guaranteed PGA Tour cards. "It shows you are going in the right direction and the work is paying off. In terms of the money list and that sort of thing, it's a huge step for me. Right now I am very excited."
A big fan of the course, he felt he had come up one short when he failed to birdie the 18th but he knew the finish would be tough and having clinched the victory he is now waiting with his fingers crossed that he will get an invitation to this month's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour.
"If I get an invite I would love to play in it," he said. "But I don't as yet. I haven't heard anything definite. It's something I have played a couple of times and loved it both time so I would love to get a spot."
Having played boys, youths and senior golf with Rory McIlroy, he's now hopeful they can rub shoulders on the PGA Tour next year.
"I haven't been talking to Rory for a couple of years but we played some golf growing up, which was nice. it was always impressive to watch him play. He has done incredible things for golf in Ireland.
"I have a lot ways to go to get anywhere near that but I am closer to playing tournaments with him again than I was this time last week. So that's nice. It would be much cooler me for than it would be for him. It would be an exciting moment."
Power's victory is a crucial one in terms of his career and a reward for those years on the eGolf Professional Tour, a mini tour based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was the leading money winner in 2014.
"I hadn't won a tournament for two years so that's tough," he said last night. "Like everyone I like winning tournaments so there are a lot of moments when you wonder if you are doing the right thing or not. This is a nice validation of the work I have been doing."
Having hooked up with Charlotte area PGA coach Ken Guilford at the end of 2013, the graph has been an upward curve thanks to his work ethic.
"I've been trying to get everything better and ball-striking towards the end of last year wasn't where I wanted it," Power said. "I needed to work on that. I have been trying to get my putting better, wedges better.
"You've got to save some shots somewhere and I thought that was going to be be place for me. My stats last year were a little disappointing in that sense and short game and wedges were the places where I was really trying to focus."
The top 25 at the end of the season gain automatic promotion to the PGA Tour and Power — a three time former Irish Youths champion and an impressive collegiate performer at ETSU — now looks very much the part.
On his position in the money list, he said: "That's huge because you know you have got to get to minimum $160,000 so that's huge. There are 21 tournaments and 25 cards so just looking at past results, there are very few guys who get a card without winning.
"So to that winning is huge, especially this early in the year. Maybe I can try and get another win and be one away from automatic promotion. It's huge and it gives me a lot of confidence going forward."
He graduated to the Web.com Tour last year thanks to a sixth place finish at the Qualifying School and ended his rookie year 67th in the money list.
After a steady start to this year, the Charlotte based Munster man went into the final round in Indiana just two strokes behind hometown boy Adam Schenk in a five-man log-jam for fifth place on seven under par.
But while he was four under for his round through 12 holes, he found himself in fifth place three strokes adrift of Ryan Sloan of Canada, who was seven under for the day after 13 holes and one clear of Schenk (12 holes) and two ahead of Jonathan Randolph (16 hole) and Cody Gribble (13 holes).
When Power parred the 13th and 14th and failed to birdie the par-five 15th, his race looked run.
But he hit a stellar, 196-yard five-iron to 15 feet at the 17th and rolled in the birdie putt.
He then hit a five wood off the tee at the water protected 18th to give himself a better angle for his approach but hit what he described as a "horrible" approach heavy that came up short left.
After a "decent" pitch he then got up and down for par, holing another 15 footer with six inches of break "right in the middle" for a superb, five under 67 that set the target at 12 under par, one ahead of Randolph (67).
His fate was in the hands of Sloan, Gribble and Shenck and all three fell away in tough conditions coming down the stretch.
Playing in the group behind, Sloan racked up double bogey sixes at the 17th and 18th for a 69 that eventually left him fifth on 10 under.
"I knew how hard 17 and 18 where playing so I knew I had a chance," Power said. "I played it really well but knew 17 was a tough four and 18 is an intimidating tee shot. To be honest, I thought I was going to come up one short."
Gribble then bogeyed the 17th to fall into a tie with Power and while he needed a birdie at the last for outright victory, he hit his second into water and made bogey for a 69 and a share of second.
Power was warming up for a possible playoff and waiting to see of local boy Schenk could make birdie at the 18th to force a playoff.
But Schenk's birdie putt ran past the edge and Power became the first Irish player to win on the Web.com Tour.
It not remains to be seen if he stays on in the US or is offered a late invitation to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Our sources close to the tour were convinced last week that the West Waterford man had an invitation coming but he was not among the seven names announced last Friday.
Perhaps now, he will get to make a triumphant homecoming at The K Club. As things stand, his next start is today in the Monday qualifier for the Wells Fargo Championship. where Rory McIlroy is the defending champion. Even with a 1.30pm tee time he was contemplating giving it a miss. A date with McIlroy is in his future – sooner rather than later.