Castleknock’s Quentin Carew struck a blow for the working amateur when he came four down at the turn and eagled the 20th to deny Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley the AIG Irish Amateur Close and a famous treble at Headfort.
Foley was bidding to become the first man since Darren Clarke in 1990 to win the North of Ireland, South of Ireland and Irish Close titles in the same season.
But 31-year-old Garda Carew, a long time member of Edenderry and a native of Allenwood in Co Kildare, simply refused to go down, winning at the second extra hole, where he rifled a 267-yard two-iron to eight feet to claim the biggest win of his career.
“I can’t even put it into words at the moment,” said Carew, who credited older brother Dougie on his bag for keeping him upbeat. “I thought through nine holes the dream was maybe starting to slip away from me but I rallied with a couple of birdies.
“The 16th was big and the 2-iron there was the one that rounded it off. I can’t believe it, I really can’t believe it.”
A 200-1 outsider, Carew only scraped into the matchplay as the 64th and final qualifier after a countback but knocked out leading qualifier Alex Maguire in the first round and Enniscorthy’s Paul Conroy by one hole in the semis.
Foley was going for his fifth amateur Major in his last 10 appearances and after seeing off international team made Matt McClean 3&2 in five-under par figures in the semis, he looked unbeatable.
He cruised four-up at the turn in the decider, winning five holes in a row from the fifth. But despite battling a back injury, Carew, won the 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th to square the match, covering the back nine in three-under.
On the winning shot, he said: “I won’t hit a better one than that. I couldn’t believe it when I hit it, it just came out of the screws it really did so it will be the one I remember for the rest of my life I’m sure.”
Foley, who was controversially left out of the three-man Irish team for the Eisenhower Trophy later this month, was gracious in defeat.
“That was pretty impressive there from Quentin eagling that 20th hole. That was brilliant ... Fair play to him. That was awesome.”
AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship Headfort (New Course)
Semi-finals: Q Carew (Castleknock) bt P Conroy (Enniscorthy) 1 h; H Foley (Royal Dublin) bt M McClean (Malone) 3&2. Final: Carew bt Foley at 20th.