Nick Dougherty could not stop himself from laughing after the inevitable question came up following his victory in the BMW International Open in Germany.

Sunday’s one-stroke win over Argentina’s Rafa Echenique earned Dougherty a place in the Open at Turnberry.

Asked about his chances of now winning a major, the 27-year-old Shaw Hill professional just chuckled and said: “It’s amazing how quickly the questions change.

“A few weeks ago people were asking me, ‘Are you going to get your form back?’ and, ‘How are you going to work your way back to being one of the better players in Europe?’ “Now it’s about majors. I love it.”

Dougherty’s slide since his mother died suddenly from a heart attack just after his Masters debut last year had taken him not only out of the world’s top 50, but out of the top 100 as well.

He failed to make it into the Ryder Cup, he failed to earn a return trip to Augusta and he failed to come through qualifying events for the US Open and Open as well.

But now he will be at Turnberry through a mini Order of Merit he did not even know much about until he was told he was in position to take one of the two spots on offer on Sunday.

Having led the US Open two years ago, however, Dougherty does not rule out the possibility that he could be Britain’s next major champion.

He said: “People are always going on about experience, but I believe that Lucas Glover (the new US Open champion) is a great example and I believe that if I keep doing what I am I’ll have some chances down the line – and hopefully I’ll take some of them.

“Last year was a terrible year for me in more ways than one. There were times when I was probably thinking, ‘Once my exemption runs out how am I going to keep my card?’ because I was playing so bad. People who know me and my golf game thought I was crazy, but these things happen.

“In time, though, you start to heal. I collected myself and I realised that I have the potential to be a great player.”

Sunday’s victory saw Dougherty leap back into the top 100 in the world golf rankings, taking the Shaw Hill professional up 56 places to 64th position.

He is also now 16th in the 2009 European Tour Race to Dubai standings and, as well as his Open spot, the win earned him a place in the Bridgestone Invitational and the HSBC Champions events as well as the Mercedes-Benz Championship.