Greystones - While the world of sport was asking 'Paul, who?', nobody in Greystones Golf Club was the least surprised by Paul Dunne's audacious bid to become the first British Open amateur winner since 1930.
As members swapped the office for the club bar on Monday, it was standing room only in the County Wicklow clubhouse to watch the Irish youngster, who began wowing locals as a 10-year-old, take the lead into the final round at St. Andrews.
"If you had asked any of the members here last Wednesday if they'd be surprised if Paul finished in the top 10, I'd say the majority of people would have said 'no'," said David Fry, who looks after the club's under-15 team, all of whom are now aiming to become the next Paul Dunne.
"We all know the talent is there, it was just a case of when it was going to come through. I would be shocked if he doesn't become a star and hopefully a southern (Irish) Rory McIlroy."
In the club foyer, a photograph of a teenage Dunne alongside a list of achievements underlined that potential, with barely enough room to cram in his collection of regional, national and European honours.
Upstairs locals roared as Dunne fought back with two birdies in three holes after dropping shots on his first two as a microphone gaffer taped to the television piped commentary around the packed clubhouse. Many others had decided as late as Sunday night to hop on a ferry to cheer on in Scotland.
"After I watched him in practice, I told everyone in the club to put money on him making the cut because he was just hitting the ball so well," club professional Karl Holmes told national broadcaster RTE from St. Andrews, as the 22-year-old's progress dominated TV, radio and newspaper front pages.
"He was always an exceptional sportsman, he excelled at tennis, soccer, Gaelic (football). He was of those annoying kids who is just really good at everything. His life is obviously going to change dramatically after today."
His dream of becoming the first amateur to win the title since 1930 quickly evaporated on poor back nine that left him six-over par for the day and six-under for the tournament
But, having watched their man show remarkable composure to shoot three sub-70 rounds before Monday's disappointing 78, the U.S. university graduate was given a standing ovation in his home clubhouse as he tapped his final putt.
"Unbelievable, it's been the fulfilment of what he's done for years and years," said 68-year-old Nigel Robinson, helping overrun bar staff collect empty pint glasses.
"He is the nicest young gentleman that you could ever come across. No matter where he finished, he did us all proud."