Schoolboy hero Tommy McGowan grabbed the glory in the SAS West of Ireland Championship as top gun Rory McIlroy crashed out.
McIlroy’s hopes of a hat-trick of wins ended when he lost by one hole to Ulster teen Paul Cutler in the quarter-finals at Rosses Point.
But McGowan, 17, gave the massive home support plenty to cheer about as he cruised into the semi-finals thanks to a brace of wins on the 18th.
The Strandhill schoolboy beat Niall Gorey with a 20 foot birdie in the third round before seeing off England’s Jonathan Hurst by one hole thanks to a super birdie at the 17th.
And if he can get past Cutler this morning he has a great chance of becoming the first Strandhill man to win the West.
McGowan beamed: “I was floating along playing on front of those crowds. I don’t think I was too aware of what I was doing to be honest.
“I know if I play as well as I have the last four days I have as good a chance as anyone.
“In my head I have been the underdog for in every match that I have played but I have just gone for broke.”
Cutler pulled of the shock of the tournament with a one-hole win over an out-of-sorts McIlroy in the quarter-finals.
The Holywood hotshot was one down after nine but won three holes in a row to go two up before losing the 14th and 15th to pars.
They were still all square playing the last but Cutler chipped stone dead for birdie and McIlroy failed with an eight footer to extend the match.
McIlroy groaned: “I didn’t hole the putts that I usually do and that was the big difference. I am really disappointed. This was the one I really wanted to win and I didn’t do it.”
South of Ireland champion Simon Ward is now the favourite to win the title and will face Galway veteran Joe Lyons in the other semi-final.
(8.0) T McGowan (Strandhill) v P Cutler (Portstewart);
(8.15) S Ward (Co Louth) v J Lyons (Galway).