Andrew “Beef” Johnston admitted it had been “a hard year” as he qualified for The Open Championship, which starts at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
The Englishman, 30, carded the best round of his career on Sunday with a 62 to finish in a share of fourth at the Scottish Open and earn an Open place.
“I’ve tried so hard in the last year and to come out and shoot a score like that is such a nice feeling,” he said.
Wiping away tears, the world 221 added: “It’s been a hard year so I’m happy.”
Johnston won many fans with his distinctive appearance and jovial demeanour, claiming his one European Tour title at the 2016 Spanish Open and finishing eighth in The Open that year.
He rose to a career-high ranking of 74 but his form deserted him and he slipped to 337th in the rankings after missing the cut at the Irish Open at the start of the month.
Johnston wrote in a European Tour blog of the mental health issues he had experienced, having split up with his long-term girlfriend, parted company with his coach and caddie and had his flat broken into.
“I could definitely feel like I wasn’t being my usual self. I wasn’t quite right,” he said.
“I was angry. I was wound up. I just thought it was the golf. I didn’t realise what was happening. It felt like every week was really tough. I was fighting. I was trying to practise more, do more, and I didn’t realise that I was just slowly burning myself out.”
Johnston is now engaged and his fiancee Jodie is expecting their first child. He paid tribute to Jodie and his psychologist Ben Davies.
“You’ve got to remember, I’m a normal geezer from Finchley,” Johnston said. “Next thing, I see a poll over in America asking fans: ‘Who are you looking forward to seeing more?’ I was above Tiger Woods.
“To get your head around that is very tough, and then came the pressure I put on myself to perform. When I returned from the States my mindset had changed without me even knowing it.
“I didn’t realise the underlying pressure I was putting on myself to perform, to try to please thousands of people. I didn’t realise that was happening until I started working with Ben and he broke it all down.”
Asked about the blog, he said: “I’ve had a great reaction from it, some nice comments from players saying it has helped.
“I think a lot of the guys have been through similar things, which in a way is nice to hear. You don’t want to see anyone down or anything like that but I’m not the only one.
“It can get tough out here, I want to do so well and win tournaments and I think the pressure I put on myself after 2016 and expectations were way too high instead of just having fun with it.”