10th April 2017
Stewart HAGESTAD yesterday secured the low amateur Silver Cup at The Masters.
Stewart Hagestad receives the Silver Cup (Photo: Chris Trotman / ANGC)
The man from Newport Beach, California shot consistent rounds of 74, 73, 74 and 73 to record an impressive +6 total and a tied 36th finish. He played the par 5’s well in all four rounds recording no bogeys and a -8 aggregate score for the whole tournament.
Afterwards he said: “I played within myself. I made very committed golf swings and I didn’t make a double all week and I think that was crucial. You know bogeys won’t kill you but doubles will and I stuck to my game plan and I played well this week.”
Australian Curtis LUCK, the US Amateur champion who was the only other amateur to make the cut, finished on +9 in tied 46th place.
Hagestad earned his invitation to The Masters by winning the 2016 US Mid-Amateur title at Stonewall in Pennsylvania. Four down with five to play he birdied three of the final four holes in regulation before birdieing the first extra hole to pip 2014 champion, and 2015 US Walker Cup player, Scott HARVEY.
Stewart Hagestad holes the winning putt at the 2016 US Mid-Amateur (Photo: USGA)
The Masters first awarded an invite to the reigning US Mid-Amateur champion in 1989. While other mid-amateurs have made the cut in the past, Jay Sigel and Jim Holtgrieve to name but two, Hagestad became the first in 29 attempts to do so under this exemption category.
On the basis the USGA retains their Mid-Amateur selection policy, which seems likely, Hagestad was in my opinion already assured of a place in the 2017 USA Team. [As I think Scott Harvey is if they go with the current two spots.] This was because of his 2016 US Mid-Amateur victory and the fact that the 2017 Championship takes place after the Walker Cup this year. His performance at Augusta National just confirms his spot and perhaps more importantly the fact he is fully deserving of it.
Hagestad is still young – he is actually 26 today. He’s single with no responsibilities and 100% focussed on his golf with work taking a back seat for the time being.
He was a strong junior player and was snapped up by the University of Southern California (USC) on a golf scholarship. However, he lost his motivation to play and rarely started in USC’s competitive college team.
After he graduated in 2013 Stewart moved to New York taking a job as a financial analyst for Oaktree Residential and Management, a real estate firm. Following his win at Stonewall he agreed an extended period of leave with his employer so he could concentrate fully on his golf ahead of the Masters and his push for a Walker Cup spot.
He moved back to California in the Autumn and has been practicing hard at his home club, the Los Angeles Country Club, ever since. Yes that Los Angeles Country Club !
Hagestad is planning to play a strong amateur schedule this summer which may include a trip over to England for The Amateur Championship if he fails to qualify for the US Open.
Hagestad was planning to stay in California and enrol for an MBA course but after his success this weekend is unsurprisingly now considering his options for 2018. “Obviously I’ll have to think about a lot of things after this week but I have no plans to turn pro” he reflected in post round interviews.
GB&I have taken advantage of the USGA’s commitment to the mid-amateur cadre in recent matches. No one can argue that points have been easier to secure for GB&I against the older US mid-amateurs in recent years. Hagestad, unfortunately from the GB&I standpoint, represents a departure from the norm and as such looks like being a different proposition altogether in 2017. Now 100% committed to his golf and producing high quality results in the most demanding of environments I don’t imagine there will be a queue of GB&I players wanting to take him on on his own home course come September.
Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.