By Brian Keogh
Des Smyth and Damien McGrane were thrilled for Peter Lawrie after watching him smash a massive mental barrier to win in Seville.
Now veteran Smyth, 55, is hoping to ride the recent wave of Irish victories to his first tournament success for three years in next month’s Irish Seniors Open at Ballyliffin.
Struggling on the Champions Tour, eight-time European Tour winner Smyth knows how much it means to finally make the breakthrough.
And he fully expects Lawrie to gain a huge amount of confidence from his first win and go from strength to strength.
Smyth said: “This was massive for Peter because he has been close a number of times and sometimes you almost feel that you are never going to win your first tournament.
“You can be a journeyman pro all your life and never win a tournament, so it is vitally important for your confidence.
“You always remember when you win your first tournament and I will always remember beating Nick Price to win Sun Alliance Match Play at Fulford in 1979.
“It is a big stepping stone in your career and you feel so much better about yourself to be a winner.
“You can always be categorised as a really good player, but until you go and win, you are never going to believe it yourself.”
McGrane was in the journeyman mold until he broke his duck in the Volvo China Open three weeks ago.
And he confessed that his breakthrough win may have helped regular room-mate Lawrie get over the line in Spain.
After watching the action at Wexford Golf Club, McGrane said: “It is spectacular. He deserves it and I am thrilled to bits for Peter and his family. It is so bizarre that we had had three Irish winners, three weeks in a row. But it just shows you half the game is in our heads.
“I am sure he would have taken some positives out of my win in China, the way I took the positives out of Graeme’s win in Korea. We have to use everything we can to get across the line and as we saw on TV, you have to pull everything out the bag to snatch a victory.
“Nacho Garrido played very well down the stretch but Peter deserved it. It keeps the Irish run going and keeps golf fresh in everyone’s mind ahead of the Irish Open next week.
“I think Peter’s dedication to the game was rewarded and it just shows you that all the Irish tour members are good enough to win tournaments.
“All we need is a bit of belief and certainly we are on the crest of a wave and all hoping it will continue and continue."
Smyth pointed out in January that the likes of McGrane and Lawrie were ready to step up and win after serving their apprenticeship.
He beamed: “It was a hell of a prediction, wasn’t it? With Graeme McDowell and Damien winning and now Darren and Peter, it is just fantastic. I was biting my nails watching it on Sunday.
“I am thrilled for Peter and I am thrilled for Damien as well. I can’t remember four Irish guys winning in such quick succession. And it is great for next week's Irish Open with four current title holders and Padraig Harrington the reigning irish Open and Open champion.”
Smyth has work to do to save his Champions Tour card after slipping to 60th in the money list after his first eight events.
Back in Drogheda to work on his game, he confessed that he’s playing so badly that a two-week stint on the European Seniors Tour next month could be the solution.
He said: “I am home for a break but also to try and find my game because I have played absolutely awful this year. I am really having a bad run, the worst run in six years over there and I have to try and find some form.
“I was hoping to have a week off but I am playing so badly that I have had to hit the practice ground.
“I am playing the Wales Senior Open next month and I have pulled out to the Bank of America Championship in Boston to play the Irish Seniors at Ballyliffin.
“I feel I am wasting my time in the US so I want to try and find my form here in Europe. If you are not playing well you are wasting your time over on the Champions Tour and at this stage in my career I don’t want to be making up numbers.
“As soon as I find my game I will be back over there. Maybe this run of Irish winners will have an effect. I hope it catches on with the older guys like me! It was great to watch it all on TV. It has given everyone a lift.”