Keegan Bradley admits he has to question himself at times to be sure his meteoric rise has not been a dream.
The 25-year-old who gave up dreams of Olympic skiing glory to devote himself to golf in his mid-teens was fighting to retain his PGA Tour card this time last year.
Now he is a major champion, and this week he is back where his dramatic rise all began, at the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas.
Bradley, nephew of former LPGA multiple major winner Pat Bradley, landed his breakthrough tour title at the TPC Las Colinas course 12 months ago when he parred the first hole of a play-off with fellow American Ryan Palmer, who found water with his approach shot.
That earned him a two-year PGA Tour exemption, meaning that whatever followed he was safe at the highest level until at least the end of 2014.
But there was better to come.
In August, Bradley made his major championship debut at the US PGA Championship and went on to triumph in a play-off there too, beating Jason Dufner.
Life had turned upside down for a player who looked back this week, as he returned to Irving, and said: "I went from an unknown rookie trying to keep his card to winning a PGA Tour event and locking up my future a little bit."
Now seeking to defend his breakthrough title, he added: "This tournament might have set up my whole career. People don't realise what the stress level is of a rookie on the PGA Tour, trying to keep your card.
"I played on the Hooters Tour and thinking about going back is scary. And to know I was on the (PGA) tour for at least two-and-a-half more years was huge.
"At the PGA I didn't have that pressure of having to win my first tournament or having to worry about making enough money to keep my card, stuff like that, where rookies have to think about that.
"Sometimes I will be sitting around and I will realise that I won the PGA and start laughing, by myself, like I can't believe it.
"It seriously happens all the time. I keep the trophy on my mantle(piece) in front of my TV in my room, and I'll just be watching TV and I'll look over at it and start laughing, because it seems so bizarre that's the trophy, it's in my room.
"Definitely sometimes I have to ask myself, 'Is this really real?'.
"But I've been wanting to do that my whole life, and it's cool to be living it. But I have so much further to go, and that's what I'm happy about. I want to be out here for a long time and be one of the best players, so I have a lot to work for."
Bradley appears a strong contender again this week, with the narrow fairways suiting his game.
"I go into it knowing that I love this course, it suits my eye well," he said. "I'm looking to win tournaments, so this is a great opportunity for me to contend this week."
One likely challenger is Matt Kuchar, coming off his victory at the Players Championship, golf's richest event, at Sawgrass on Sunday.
Kuchar, 33, shot up 11 places to fifth in the world rankings on Monday and has not discounted a charge to number one.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy holds the top spot ahead of England's Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, followed by Americans Bubba Watson and Kuchar.
"I think it's an exciting time in the game of golf right now in that there is the possibility to become that number one player in the world," Kuchar said.
"For a long time it seemed like Tiger Woods had a stronghold on the position and that number two was the thing you had to play for.
"Even if Tiger Woods took a year off, it seemed like he would still hold that position. So it's exciting to have movement at that number one shot, to have a shot at being the best.
"I think it's one of the things we all strive for, to be the best of the best, to actually be number one in the world would be an honour."
Kuchar heads out in a group with Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington, while Bradley plays alongside Rory Sabbatini and Jason Day.
The world's top four are absent, as is Woods, but there is plenty of big-name appeal, not least in the group consisting of Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Ernie Els.