Peter Lawrie danced a Spanish fandango in Seville as he completed his incredible journey from golfing nowhere man to European Tour champion.
Now Irish golf fans are set for a thrilling encore at Adare Manor in next week’s Irish Open when the modest Dubliner and fellow tour winners Graeme McDowell, Damien McGrane and Darren Clarke tee it up alongside Open champion Padraig Harrington.
With no Irishmen entered in the Italian Open this week, Harrington will bid to make it four Irish wins in a row at the week's Players Championship in Sawgrass.
And another Irish triumph would be no surprise after Lawrie’s thrilling Spanish Open win completed a memorable 50 day run that started with McDowell's play-off triumph in Korea eight weeks ago.
Relieved and emotional at the finish after years of hard work with his long-time coach Brendan McDaid, Lawrie jetted into Dublin airport at 2am where he was met by his family with a warm embrace.
Still trying to take it all in, he said: “It means everything. It’s been a long time coming. I tried and tried and, all of a sudden, here it is, the day has come. Now I just have to soak it all up and try and enjoy it.
“There have been a lot of sacrifices along the way but as I said to my wife recently, I have two young kids and I don’t spent a lot of time with them or with her. There has to be a payback somewhere and this the payback.”
Lawrie pocketed €333,330 for the win, taking his career earnings beyond €2.5 million since he turned professional in 1997.
His rewards include a jump of 87 places to 156th in the world rankings and leap of 76 spots to 12th on the Order of Merit, where he sits proudly ahead of Darren Clarke (13th) and Padraig Harrington (14th) with best pal Damien McGrane an amazing seventh.
With a two-year exemption and a place in November’s HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai in the bag, Lawrie has come a long way since he became the first Irish winner of the Rookie of the Year Award in 2003.
And he confessed that he was determined not to settle for second best after losing a play-off for the 2003 Spanish Open in Tenerife.
Reflecting on that loss, he said: “I was a bit naïve and green then and didn’t really take my chances. So I kept on telling myself - ‘You haven’t come all the way from China to Spain to mess this one up. Come on now, take the opportunities and go for it then’.
"That’s all that it is. I holed a few putts to keep the round going. I holed a good one on ten and that was the key. After that, just head down and hope for the best.”
Four birdies in the last six holes left him leading the clubhouse on 15 under par and looking odds on to win in his 175th tour start.
But he had to go to a play-off after Ignacio Garrido holed an unlikely 30 footer at the last before giving the Spaniard a taste of his own medicine by draining a 20 footer down the hill on the first extra hole to stay alive.
He danced and twirled around the green after that one, revealing afterwards that he felt the title was his before Garrido had drained that killer putt for birdie on the 72nd hole.
Normally a reserved character, Lawrie danced for joy, twirling and first pumping before sealing victory at their second visit to the 18th when Garrido’s approach spun off the green into the lake.
Savouring his Spanish fandango, Lawrie said: “I’d love to see the replay. I don’t know. I thought it was going to stay short left and it just snuck in. I hit one of the best putts of my life to keep the playoff alive because I knew he was going to hole his.
“He has putted great all week to shoot the scores that he has. It was one and a million chance and it went in.
“Honestly, I really didn’t think about winning coming down the back nine. I just kept trying to make birdies and I birdied three of the last four holes, which was great.
“I just tried to get myself in a position. I looked up and, all of a sudden, saw myself on top of it. I’d been in a playoff at the Spanish Open before and let it slip but I took this one.”
It’s been a long, hard road for Lawrie, who failed four times at the Q-School before finally gradauting from the Challenge Tour in 2002.
He said: “We’ve done many a mile since then. I’ve always said I’d travel far and wide until I won a tournament. I have my two year exemption now, we’ll go on from here.
“Everyone goes through tough times in hotel rooms at night. If they say they don’t then I don’t think they are telling the truth. Everybody feels for this game.
“Sometimes you just shake your head at it and wonder why it won’t work and then other times it works wonderfully, like today. These are the things you go through.
“I’ve been playing exceptionally well the last few weeks and it was a case of just waiting for my turn.
“My roommate Damien picked it up handy enough by nine shots. He won so easily - he didn't have to go through this pain and torture.
“I think if somebody like that (Damien) wins, it spurs you on. It gets you down to brass tacks. You play practice rounds with these guys all the time and you think ‘why can’t I do it’.
Lawrie’s win is another shot in the arm for next week's cash-strapped Irish Open.
Ticket sales are booming and organisers hope to beat the 58,000 attendance last year with five Irish tour winners in the field.
Lee Westwood’s decision to enter is another boost in the race for Ryder Cup points with Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Niclas Fasth and Robert Karlsson joining the likes of Clarke and Harrington.
David Higgins and Sunday’s Moroccan Challenge Tour winner Michael Hoey are expected to land sponsor’s invitations.