By Brian Keogh
Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin earned World Cup glory on paradise island.
Now the Ulster pair have set their sights on securing their European Tour cards before they tee it up in the $5 million Omega Mission Hills World Cup next month.
With Padraig Harrington and the rest of Ireland's tour stars sitting it out this year, the Challenge Tour duo jetted 8,000 miles from Kazakhstan to the Caribbean island of Aruba to battle it out with 18 nations for five World Cup spots.
They achieved that mission in brilliant style, finishing just one shot behind winners Puerto Rico in the Nations Cup qualifier on Sunday night.
But the real nitty-gritty is only beginning now as they face a vital six week period back in Europe.
Still on a high, Hoey said: "It's just a fantastic feeling to come all the way out here and do the business.
"Hopefully we can use this as a springboard on the Challenge Tour and go on now and get European Tour cards.
"I've been there before and once you've had a taste of the big time you want to get back.
"Getting to the World Cup is going to be great for us but we want to go there will our our cards in our pockets and really give a good account of ourselves."
Hoey and Maybin have two chances to make it to the big league next year.
Their first hope is to finish inside the top 20 on the Challenge Tour rankings but with Hoey ranked 49th and Maybin 58th, they will settle for a place in the top 45 and a place in the Challenge Tour's equivalent of the Volvo Masters in , the Grand Final, from October 24-27.
A place there guarantees them an automatic spot in the Qualifying School Finals at San Roque from November 15-20.
And while a six-round marathon there will leave them with less than 48 hours to get to Missions Hills for the World Cup, manager Conor Ridge is already thinking ahead.
The Horizon Sports Management boss has made contingency plans to jet the pair from southern Spain to a major international airport, which would give them every chance making a quick connection for China.
And judging by the way the pair played in the Dutch Caribbean, they have every chance of getting their cards and doing Ireland proud in the World Cup.
Hoey said: "I was very relaxed and being in Aruba probably helped that. We led after the first and third days and didn't feel under that much pressure until the last day.
"I knew that if I did my bit and played solid on the back nine on Sunday, we would get through. So I really felt a lot of pressure in that situation.
"You don't mind playing terrible when you are just playing for yourself. But when you are playing for Ireland and you are playing for your partner, you don't want to let anyone down.
"Gareth played great and we really enjoyed the week. We both back each other up at the right times but he probably played a bit better than I did.
"He made a couple more birdies in the fourball format and my putting was good all week, which was really important.
"I drove the ball better than I have been doing for the last few months and I only missed one fairway in the last two rounds, so I am really happy about that.
"I am just trying to take that with me now into the next few tournaments on the Challenge Tour."
Maybin and Hoey will take this week off before heading to Munich for the €140,000 Doc Salbe PGA European Challenge.
The following week's Toscana Open Italian Federation Cup will give them one last chance to make the top 45 for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final near Brindisi.
With last place in the World Cup worth $25,000 each, Hoey and Maybin are setting their sights far higher against a field that features the likes of England's Justin Rose and Paul Casey, Americans Arron Oberholser and Sean O’Hair or Spain's José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez
Before flying home, Maybin said: "It was cool to do it in Aruba. It's like paradise here but I'm really looking forward to getting to China now.
"We enjoy each other's company and hopefully it can boost us along for the rest of the season.
"I got an invite into Germany next week and hopefully I can keep it rolling along into Italy.
"We played great together as well. There was zero in prize money but we are through to Mission Hills now and that's the brilliant thing.
"We're not going there to make up the numbers, that's for sure."
Hoey pointed out that while names like Costa Rica or Paraguay won't mean much to most golf fans, qualifying in Aruba was a top performance.
He said: "Absolutely. It wasn't an easy qualifier for us. We only made it through by a couple of shots.
"The other teams were really strong - look at Carlos Franco playing for Paraguay and he's a guy with a four wins on the PGA Tour."
"You have the Molinari brothers, with Francesco a European Tour winner and Edoardo winning twice on the Challenge Tour this year.
"If we made it through this and keep our short games sharp between now and November, there is no reason why we can't do really well in China.
"We are not going out there looking at last place prize money that's for sure."