Carter deprived Colin Montgomerie of a hat-trick of Championships over the superb Co Wicklow course at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off after the pair tied on a six under par aggregate of 278.
In a thrilling finish, Carter had to sink a 20 foot putt for a bogey on the home green with his broom-handle putter to force a play-off after Montgomerie had made up a four stoke deficit over the inward half.
But the roles were reversed at the first extra hole. Montgomerie, who had hit the green in regulation first time around, chopped out of heavy rough and into the water. Carter, who had found the pond with his second shot fifteen minutes earlier, this time sent a six iron soaring onto the green and Montgomerie’s concession enable him to secure his first European Tour title.
The Englishman, who shot a closing par 71 to Montgomerie’s 68, admitted: “This means everything to me. I know I can win, and when you have almost died, to come out and win is an unbelievable feeling.”
It was at last year’s Dubai Desert Classic that Cater collapsed in his hotel room, suffering from fluid on the brain following a head knock sustained on a water slide in Sun City, South Africa.
He was discovered by friends and said: “The surgeon thought I had three or four hours left because the pressure was so severe on my brain because of the bang on the head. It would have left me paralysed and then I would have been dead.”
Thankfully, Carter lived to tell the tale and to keep the huge, excitable Irish crowds on their toes. However, he was to achieve his maiden victory the hard way.
Montgomerie, the winner at Druids Glen in 1996 and 1997, set a storming pace on Thursday with an opening 65 which left him three strokes clear of the field. A second round 74 left the Scot one behind American Craig Hainline from Kansas and Cork’s John McHenry, who emerged from a frustrating period to share the lead on 138.
Then Barry Lane, surged through the field by equalling the nine under par course record of 62 set by Montgomerie in the final round last year.
Lane went out last on Sunday with Carter, who moved unobtrusively into contention with rounds of 68, 72 and 67. Ernie Els, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam all made progress in the third round, but on the last day Carter opened up a four shot lead by the turn on the last day before faltering on the closing stretch after Montgomerie had finished in style.
The winner’s cheque elevated Carter to eighth in the Volvo Ranking, while Montgomerie’s runner-up prize took him back ahead of Lee Westwood at the top.