AS HE paraded around Royal Birkdale’s 18th hole, hoisting the Claret Jug aloft and with a cheque for around £1.5 million heading towards his bank account on Sunday, it is a fair bet that the influence he had made upon Wiltshire golfer Laurie Canter came nowhere near crossing the mind of new Open champion Jordan Spieth.

But while the 23-year-old Texan enjoyed the spoils of victory on the Southport links, Canter, from the Cumberwell Park club in Bradford on Avon, was heading down the M6 with the renewed belief that he too has the tools to challenge at golf’s top table in future.

The 27-year-old’s share of the Birkdale prize pot may have been somewhat smaller than his American counterpart - while his two-over-par finishing total will be largely a footnote to the excitement which unfolded at the top of the leaderboard - but for Canter, who earned 39,478 euros for his weekend’s work, it was a significant shot in the arm not only for his immediate future on the European Tour, but his loftier future ambitions in the game.

A finishing round of 68, including an immaculate three-birdie start to his Sunday, sent the Cumberwell player away from his second Open - he missed the cut as an amateur at St Andrews in 2010 - not only in great heart, but with a clearer vision of what he needs to do to ensure such Major appearances become the norm rather than the exception in future.

If learning from the best is one gateway to success, the Canter’s own brief encounter with the eventual champion at Birkdale will serve him well.

“It was interesting to watch Spieth in the practice round on Monday and see how he prepares himself in terms of attention to detail on each green,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.

“It’s also strengthened my belief that I feel I have the game to ultimately compete at the highest level.

“There are definitely areas I can improve on and that’s exciting, because it tells me I’m not a mile off now, and with some smart hard work, I can hopefully become more competitive more often at the top level.’’ In raw numbers, his tied 37th finish at the Open wasn’t Canter’s best this season - he picked up two top-20 results in South Africa at the start of the year - but taking into account the strength of field and magnitude of occasion, his efforts in the North West stand out in his 2017 story.

“It was a totally different one (to 2010),’’ he added.

“I felt a lot more prepared and ready for what was to come. I think I expected a better performance from myself as I’ve had a couple of years of European Tour golf and have seen some good progress in my game the last couple of years especially.

“I made a point of trying to enjoy myself more around the event, as there is a lot going on and I remember how fast the last one went by, so it’s important to try and enjoy the things that make the Open so special as a player.

“I did a lot of things really nicely, especially tee to green in the first two rounds where conditions were extremely challenging at times.

Wiltshire Times:

Laurie Canter speaks to Tommy Fleetwood during practice day four at The Open last week.

“I felt I stuck to my game plan well and avoided any disasters, which is always important at an Open where danger isn’t ever far away.

“As with all links courses, the wind is its main protector, and we had to deal with lots of wind in the first couple of rounds.

“Birkdale is unique as it only has two par fives, which come late in the round, so it’s a real patience test for the first 14 holes where birdie chances are at a premium.

“It (the fine start to his final round) was really important. In truth I would have loved to make a little more of that start, but under par at Birkdale is always a great score and in the context of my season, it was important to shoot something decent and build some momentum for the rest of the season.’’ Canter paid tribute to the posse of family and friends - Bath rugby star Matt Banahan was among them - to lend him their support during the week.

“It was incredible, I was actually blown away by the amount of people who made the effort to come up,’’ he admitted.

“On Friday there were close to 40 people following me, and it really helped on such a tough day.

“Cumberwell is a special place and great environment and I’m lucky to be able to call it my home club.’’ The next phase of his season begins on Thursday at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg, as he continues to amass the points necessary to retain his Tour playing rights for next season.

“It (The Open) has earned me around 40,000 points (on the Race To Dubai order of merit), which puts me back in a reasonable position (151st) to retain my (Tour) card.

“I need a great second half of the season, and my playing opportunities have been a little limited so far this season.

“But my goal is to continue to play as well as possible and then hopefully things take care of themselves.

It’s a big boost to confidence and belief in a golf sense, but also a lot of personal satisfaction to say that I’ve competed at the biggest tournament in the world.’’