Matty Lamb rolled in the birdie putt on the 18th green of the Old Course at St Andrews and savoured the moment.
And why not?
It was his seventh birdie of the back nine, six of them in consecutive holes from the 10th. It was the stuff of golfing dreams.
The talented 21-year-old from Hexham had come home in just 29 shots and signed for a brilliant nine-under par round of 63.
Undoubtedly, Lamb’s performance in the second round of the St Andrews Links Trophy back in June was one of the highlights of a fine season for the England Men’s player from Northumberland.
It followed an opening round of 64 on the Jubilee Course and came in a season when he followed in the footsteps of Justin Rose by winning the Hampshire Hog at North Hants Golf Club by shooting a course record round of 63 on the final day.
Lamb also played his part to help England win the Home Internationals at Lahinch in Ireland (pictured below) and finish second at the European Men’s Championships.
Yet while Lamb looks back fondly on that round on the famous links of St Andrews and other key wins in the season it was the important lesson from a day of disappointment that could prove pivotal in his career.
England colleague Jake Burnage pipped Lamb to the post to win the famous St Andrews trophy by one shot and deny him a win
For Lamb, the week had some notable highs – the sort of feelings that will last a lifetime.
But he is smart enough to know that he must learn and use the disappointment of falling just short on day four to allow him to keep making progress.
Reflecting on 2019 and ahead to the new year, Lamb admitted: ““I definitely feel I’ve made progress in 2019.
“I had better results this season – both individually and as a part of the England team.
“I had a couple of good weeks at the Europeans and Home Internationals with England and that’s always special
“I’ve grown up and learned more about how to prepare for tournaments better. I’m getting to know myself a little bit better too.
“I had a couple of good rounds at St Andrews – that was definitely the highlight of my year.
“The second day on the Old Course I was steady and reached the turn in two-under par.
“Then I had six birdies in a row from 10. I made par on the 16th and 17th and birdied 18.
“To shoot 29 on the back nine at the Old Course is pretty cool.
“It’s a great feeling walking up the 18th. It’s an amazing week because all the golfers are in and around the town and that atmosphere is special.
“Hopefully I can walk up 18th at St Andrews again feeling that same way.
“Obviously it was tough not to win that week. The final round didn’t go my way. But you learn from these events.
“What England coaches Paul Ashwell and Graham Walker drill into us is not how good your good golf is, but how good your bad golf is.
“I need to look at that.
“It’s turning a 74 into a 71.
“Look at Tiger – when he plays badly he still shoots 68 or 69 which is ridiculous. I’ll never get to his level, but I have to try to get as close as possible.”
Lamb speaks with real maturity – able to talk with humility about the good days and rationalise what went wrong on the bad ones.
Being able to deal with the mental challenges of golf is almost as important as working on technique.
As the renowned performance coach Dr Bob Rotella says in the title of his best-selling book – “Golf is not a game of perfect.”
Lamb is now based back in Northumberland and working with Andy Paisley – brother of Tour star Chris – at Hexham Golf Club.
Recent days spent with the England squad at Woodhall Spa are invaluable as Lamb – now back from a stint at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte – acknowledged.
He added: “I was in America and wasn’t enjoying it and my golf reflected that.
“I have a lot of work to do on my technique over the winter and I want to be more focused and try to take things to the next level.
“The stuff we do on England training camps really helps me in that respect.
“Having no income is difficult. You can’t do that much stuff away from golf as you don’t have much money. Any money you do have you spend on travel related to golf.
“But listen, I could be doing worse things than devoting all my time to golf.
“It’s not really something to complain about and I’m enjoying myself.
“I’m investing time and money into my future. I see it still as part of my education.
“Next season I want to move up the world ranking and improve my stroke average. That’s the first steps towards more consistency and a few more top ten finishes.”
Photograph credit: Leaderboard/St Andrews Links Trust