Colin Montgomerie has emerged from a personal nightmare to become a European golfing hero and now an OBE in the New Year Honours List.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE, OBE
1985: Scottish amateur strokeplay champion
1987: Scottish amateur champion
1988: European Tour Rookie of the Year
1989: Wins Portuguese Open
1994: Loses US Open play-off to Ernie Els
1995: Loses USPGA play-off to Steve Elkington
1997: Second to Els again in US Open but leads Europe to Ryder Cup victory
1999: Seventh straight European Order of Merit title
2002: Another starring role in Ryder Cup win
2004: Holes the winning putt in Ryder Cup victory. Awarded OBE
The 41-year-old slumped to 81st in the world rankings in 2004 as his marriage crumbled - but he then inspired Europe to Ryder Cup victory over the USA.
"I'm obviously hugely honoured," said the Scot, previously an MBE.
"This honour is wonderful. I feel I have a lot more to give and it fills me with confidence going into 2005."
Montgomerie received his previous honour in 1998 after winning the European
tour Order of Merit for the sixth of seven successive times.
Troubled with back problems, his tournament form has recently suffered a serious slump and he had not won a tournament for nearly six months in the lead up to Oakland Hills in September.
He was having trouble sleeping, had just missed the halfway cut in the German Masters and travelling to the match on his own - just three days after he and his wife had been granted a "quickie" divorce.
Montgomerie had failed to qualify for the team, but captain Bernhard Langer had given him one of his two wild cards.
And the Scot repaid the German's faith by memorably sinking the winning putt in Detroit as the USA suffered their heaviest-ever Ryder Cup defeat.
He won three out of four games, extending his recent record in the event to a brilliant 14 wins, three halves and only three defeats.
Montgomerie has not lost a singles game since making his cup debut in 1991.
"What I remember most about this year's Ryder Cup is how much I enjoyed being part of a great team," he said.
His efforts led earlier this month to him being a recipient of the Professional Golfers'
Association's recognition award for services to golf.
It also led to suggestions that he might wind down his tournament career.
But, after initially hinting he might be interested in taking over from Bernhard
Langer as Ryder Cup captain, he has now said he hopes to play his way into the 2006 team.
A major title still eludes Montgomerie, but he now hopes that, with his marriage break-up behind him and buoyed by public support, he can improve on near-misses in the US Open and USPGA.