Rowan Lester (Hermitage) staged a back nine fightback to win the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush on Friday.
Three down after seven and struggling for consistency off the tee, the 21-year-old, a student at Texas Wesleyann University, beat home favourite, Colin Fairweather (Knock) by two holes.
“I knew I was playing good.
“I knew that if I could keep it solid and not have any bogeys that I would get back,” said Lester.
“In matchplay, three is comfortable. Two or one up is never comfortable.
“I knew just to hang in there. I always like leading.
“When I go down I normally find it hard but today I knew I was going to come back.
“I didn’t necessarily think I would win but I knew I would get back and make it tight. I just had that feeling.
“It is great to win here and I am delighted to get my hands on the trophy,” he said.
Fairweather is waiting for surgery on his leg to address a varicose veins issue but refused to blame that for his defeat.
“I was never really on my ‘A’ game all week.
“I battled it around but I just fell short,” he said.
“With having a bad leg and not being on my game, I was happy to get this far and I enjoyed the golf,” he added.
RESULTS: Final: Rowan Lester bt Colin Fairweather 2 Holes;
Semi Final: Colin Fairweather bt Caolan Rafferty 1 Hole; Rowan Lester bt Alex Gleeson 19th;
Quarter Final: Colin Fairweather bt Derek Downie 2 Holes; Caolan Rafferty bt Darragh Coghlan 4&2; Alex Gleeson bt Paul Murphy 2&1; Rowan Lester bt Ronan Mullarney 3&1;
Round 3: Derek Downie bt JOHN MURPHY 3&1; Colin Fairweather bt Gareth Lappin 2 Holes; Darragh Coghlan bt Alan Fahy 1 Hole; Caolan Rafferty bt Ross Dutton 19th; Alex Gleeson bt Eugene Smith 3&2; Paul Murphy bt Finlay Mason 6&5; Ronan Mullarney bt Jonathan Yates 1 Hole; Rowan Lester bt Cian Geraghty 2 Holes.