Castle golfer Rob Moran was thrilled to finally get over the line as he rolled in a 13 foot putt to seal the AIG Irish Men’s Amateur Close Championship.
It took until the third play-off hole of an epic battle with his good friend, and reigning champion, Quentin Carew, to finally claim the win at Malone.
The 24-year-old had a four-shot lead late on Sunday after a strong third round but Carew showed his experience and he battled hard to take the championship to extra holes.
They went down 18 twice and when they still couldn’t be separated, the play-off went up the Par 3 12th with Moran’s seven iron the difference, and his putt secured a priceless win.
“It’s an Irish Championship, I’ve won Ulster Stroke Play but of the main six I haven’t won any of them,” said Moran.
“I had a few close runs so to finally get over the line in one of the biggest ones it’s pretty satisfying yeah.”
Moran wrestled control of the lead on Sunday afternoon and he went into the final round with a three-shot advantage ahead of Castleknock’s Carew.
He shot a brilliant 66 in Round 3 with a flawless scorecard which included four birdies to pull clear at the top of the standings. Overnight leader Jack Hearn (Tramore) shot 72 while Carew stayed in contention with a 70, and he still had every chance after repeating his 2022 heroics.
The final round was even more enthralling and when Moran dropped back-to-back shots on six and seven, it left the door open.
Hearn and Carew were both piling on the pressure from the group behind, and as a short par putt went by on the tenth, Moran had his lead reduced to the minimum again.
Carew had plenty of opportunities to draw level on -2 but he couldn’t and instead Moran’s bogey on 14 was enough to leave the two matched on top of the leaderboard.
A sweet birdie on 16 put Moran back in the ascendency and with Carew failing to birdie any of his back nine, he had to get up and down on the 18th to rescue a play-off and he did.
Carew, who had beaten Hugh Foley in last year’s match play final in similar circumstances, looked to have the momentum going into the play-off but Moran held his nerve.
and finally made it count on the 39th hole of the day.
“It’s been a rollercoaster today,” said Moran.
“Played lovely this morning, was terrible this afternoon, couldn’t putt into a bucket. Finally one went in there, so absolutely over the moon.
“Fair play to Quentin as well, one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. It’s hard beating him, he is a close friend.
“I gave him a few chipping lessons in the last few weeks and I see him get up and down on 18 so I was wishing I didn’t give him those chipping lessons.
“It was a great battle out there, delighted to be standing here.”
It was an awesome defence from Carew who stayed in the fight all week and just came up short in the end.
“It was a great week, came so close there,” said Carew.
“I thought maybe the last few holes there it was going to turn my way but it didn’t and the play-off could have went either way.
“But Rob, fair play to him, 205-yard Par 3 makes birdie, you can’t do much about that.”
Castle GC’s Rob Moran with the Irish Amateur Close Championship trophy