American Stewart Cink has described his first major triumph in the 138th Open at Turnberry as "surreal", whilst also paying tribute to rival Tom Watson.
Cink triumphed over Watson by six shots in a play-off after the two had both finished the tournament two under.
"It's been a surreal experience," said Cink. "Playing against Tom Watson, this stuff just does not happen.
"I grew up watching him - he has turned back the clock and I feel so happy just being part of it."
Cink had only ever claimed one top-10 finish at an Open Championship - in 2007 at Carnoustie - and has just five PGA Tour victories to his name since turning professional in 1995.
Highlights - Cink triumphs in Open play-off
"I stand here a little intimidated by this piece of hardware I have in my hand," admitted Cink at the presentation ceremony.
"There are a lot of emotions running through my mind and my heart and I'm so proud to be here with this.
"I've waited a while for this and I don't have a great record at the Open but that's all gone now."
It could so easily have been a different story had 59-year-old Watson not missed an eight foot putt for par on the final hole of Sunday's final round that would have given him a historic sixth Open victory.
On the very same hole Cink had earlier sunk a 14-foot birdie putt to seal a round of 69 and take him to a two-under par clubhouse lead.
In the resulting play-off Cink claimed a par in the first and second holes and birdied the third and fourth, whilst Watson bogeyed the first and fourth and double-bogeyed the third.
The world number 33 cited the importance of his putt on the 18th but also highlighted the preparation he had put in beforehand as the keys to his success.
"It is the most crucial putt I've ever struck," he said. "Nothing even comes close. It's just such a sweet feeling to hole one at that moment.
"I felt calm all week about the course, and I played some links in Ireland.
"I found my swing before the tournament started and that helped me hit the ball solid and my putting was right on target all week."
It would have been a great story - Watson
Watson was bitterly disappointed that he allowed the chance to become golf's oldest-ever major champion by 11 years to slip through his grasp on a course where he claimed the fourth of his five Open championships 32 years ago.
"It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?" said Watson.
"It tears out your gut like it's always torn out my gut. It's not easy to take. I put myself in position to win and didn't do it.
"I hit a lousy putt and the play-off was one bad shot after another. Stewart did what he had to do and I didn't give him much competition.
"But what I take from this week is a lot of warmth - the crowds were just wonderful to me all week - and a lot of spirituality. And it was good fun."
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