Hugh Foley put in a relentless Sunday performance to romp home at the AIG Men’s Irish Amateur Close Championship at Rosapenna.
Entering the final day tied with Galway Bay’s Andrew Hickey, The Royal Dublin golfer birdied the first and never looked back, firing five birdies in a bogey-free 67 to complete a stunning 10 stroke win.
“It’s incredible,” said Foley, who competes as a full-time amateur. “I really didn’t let myself think ahead at all. I only checked the scores on the 18th fairway and that’s when the nerves subsided. It’s unbelievable to get my name on that trophy – incredible.”
The 23-year old had identified a very clear game plan that he stuck to for 54-holes, only hitting driver four times over the three days around Sandy Hills.
“I didn’t hit any terrible shots, stuck to my game plan really well, putted well, but I was quite calm once I got going,” Foley added.
“I had a really good feeling about the week – don’t know why – just one of those weeks where you feel great and I’m obviously delighted now.”
Perhaps that feeling of nirvana spawned from a place of familiarity with Foley revealing after his second round that his coach, Geoff Loughrey had been bringing him to Rosapenna for links training for the past four years.
“100%,” Foley agreed. “I’ve played here in every condition, every tee box. Just knowing that the course could bite you – I didn’t lose a golf ball in three rounds. We saw a lot of high numbers and I just knew if I could keep those off the card I could have a really good week.”
Weeks don’t come much better than winning one of Ireland’s most prestigious championships by a whopping 10 strokes. In etching his name on the trophy, Foley joins a list of past champions that includes Major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry but, despite the achievement, he’s not quite ready to join such names in the pro ranks yet.
“Not this year,” Foley said of his plans to turn pro. “If this year was a normal year, I would’ve gone to Q-School as an amateur maybe for experience and I would’ve given it a full go on the amateur circuit next year as well.
“With this, and with all the tours and travel up in the air, it’s a case of stay put for the time being and I’m really enjoying it – I think it’s a great life.”
Completing the podium places were Carton House’s Marc Boucher and Roganstown’s Patrick Keeling who shared second place at four-over par, a full 10 shots behind a most-worthy winner in Foley.
With victory, Foley also snatched up third place on the Bridgestone Order of Merit table and a place on Golf Ireland’s first men’s High Performance Panel for 2021.
This season’s Bridgestone Series was won by the incredibly consistent Alan Fahy whose four top-10 results from four events edged Marc Boucher into second place. The pair join Foley on next year’s High Performance Panel with the top-3 in the Order of Merit automatically selected.