Bernd Ritthammer admitted he needs time to recover after the German won the hearts of the Hamburg crowd in an absorbing week at the Porsche European Open.
The 32-year-old Nuremberg native marked his 100th European Tour event with the best result of his career to finish in a tie for second at Green Eagle Golf Courses, having started the final day as joint-leader with Robert MacIntyre.
There had not been a home winner on German soil since Martin Kaymer secured the BMW International Open in 2008, but Ritthammer came close to replicating the two-time Major Champion in front of huge support in Hamburg.
And it was those crowds which left the three-time European Challenge Tour winner lost for words as he became an overnight hero and could not thank the fans enough for the support they showed.
“It was quite a ride, I hadn’t experienced something like that before,” Ritthammer said. “Playing that well and being in contention on home soil is special. Even from the first hole it was so full with people.
“I’d have taken four under today from the first tee – I tried everything I could. The support was unbelievable, I just need some time to digest. I didn’t expect it.
“What a great event. Especially how it’s developed. I played here two years ago and it’s a massive difference. A world-class event, so many people come out, the volunteers doing a great job.
“It was fantastic, I need some days to digest it. But I’m very thankful for everybody who was involved. To my sponsors, my family, my wife, my dad, my coach Igor back home, my manager, it hasn’t been a straight-forward career so far, so you need these people.
“I’ve been a pro for a long time and there have been thoughts now and then if I’ve made the right career choice.
“Thirteen years as a pro and never won on the European Tour and never kept my card, always lost it after getting it. It makes you think. This week showed me I might still be on the right path.”